Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Invented Forms—Part 2

The second form I want to pass onto you is called a "sevenling." J.P. Dancing Bear, the poet and editor of The American Poetry Journal, introduced me to this form. It was invented by poet Roddy Lumsden. It is a poem of seven lines inspired by this short poem by Anna Akhmatova (1889 - 1966).

He loved three things alone:
White peacocks, evensong,
Old maps of America.

He hated children crying,
And raspberry jam with his tea,
And womanish hysteria.

. . . And he married me.

tr. D M Thomas From Selected Poems (Penguin)

Lumsden provides the following rules for the sevenling:

The first three lines should contain an element of three - three connected or contrasting statements, or a list of three details, names or possibilities. This can take up all of the three lines or be contained anywhere within them. Then, lines four to six should similarly contain an element of three, connected directly or indirectly or not at all. The seventh line should act as a narrative summary or punchline or as an unusual juxtaposition. There are no set metrical rules, but being such as short form, some rhythm, meter or rhyme is desirable. To give the form a recognizable shape, it should be set out in two stanzas of three lines, with a solitary seventh, last line. The tone of the sevenling should be mysterious, offbeat or disturbing, giving a feeling that only part of the story is being told. The poem should have a certain ambiance which invites guesswork from the reader.

Here's an example by Lumsden. The poem seems to have no title.

All those buzzsaw years I ran the show,
all those kids who asked me for advice,
The Architect, the Miraclist, The Man.

The starlets kick-line, that was my concoction,
the sailor boys, the peacock feather spotlights;
till one night in a blackout, I let slip

what it is I say to all the girls.

And here's my own example from The Del Sol Review:

Woman with Fruit

Raisins, prunes, and apricots,
the dried fruits she hungers for,
done now with ripeness, the mess of juice.

Especially she craves figs,
their turtle-textured skin, resolute stem,
quirky resilience of the pendulous bladder,

and inside the sack, seeds that crackle like grit.

Now try your hand at the sevenling.

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Monday, July 28, 2008

Invented Forms

Last summer I became interested in invented forms. I gathered together a bunch of them and tried my hand at some. I liked the challenge of them and often the zaniness. And in several cases, I liked the results. Recently, I submitted two invented form poems to The Del Sol Review, an online journal. Both appear in the current issue. I thought some of you might like to try your hand at these two forms. I'm offering you one today; the other will soon follow.

Today's challenge is an anagram poem. The instructions come from Terrance Hayes in his collection, Hip Logic. According to Hayes' note, he found the instructions in the puzzle section of newspapers.

First, choose a word of substantial length. Then quickly form as many words as you can from that lead word. You will need a minimum of eleven. Words should consist of four or more letters. That's the rule, but one I easily broke, and I allow you to break it also. You are not allowed to make a three-letter word into a four-letter one by the addition of s. I broke that rule also and so may you, if you like.

Then from your list of words, write an eleven-line poem. Each line must end with one of the words on your list. So if your list contains fifteen words, you will use only eleven of them. You could go on longer if inclined, but I obeyed this rule.

I found this form quite addictive. I was intrigued and pleased by the resulting sounds—the near rhymes, the alliteration, consonance, and assonance. Here's one of my favorite anagrams.


You think it's easy
to unravel the boa of feathers and cast
it off, to turn the act
of undressing into an art, suggest Yes
to each hungry face, go just so far and then desist?

Not one can touch, but all must leave feeling sated.

Sequins sparkle as she slinks across the dais,
peels the skirt and tosses it as if rolling dice,
and then the bustier, hook by hook, and thrown aside,
a spider molting, her gaze at once smoldering and icy,
the swivel of hips, to keep the tease slow and steady.

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Friday, July 25, 2008

Happy Birthday to Blogalicious

Today is my blog's first birthday. It was exactly one year ago that I launched this blog. I did so with some trepidation. Would I be using up time that I ought to be spending on other endeavors? Would I write fewer poems? Would I be taken less seriously as a poet if I became a blogger? Would anyone bother to visit my blog?

I'm happy to say that starting a blog has been a very good experience. Sure, I guess I should be off right now cleaning something or reading something, but those things will get done (okay, maybe the cleaning won't get done). I don't write any more poems than I did before the blog, but I don't think I write any less either. One thing's for sure—I've written a lot more on a variety of topics, stuff I would never have written without the blog. In fact, in the past year, I've written 138 posts! Whoever thought I'd turn into such a blabbermouth.

I can't say if anyone takes me less seriously as a poet now that I'm a blogger too, but I can say with certainty that I continue to take myself quite seriously. And I've certainly bought and read more poetry, some of it because of exchanges here on the blog.

I think I'm more observant. I'm listening carefully for topics that might be useful on the blog. I read more carefully, again thinking about some response I might make on the blog. I pay more attention to books and chapbooks now that I might want to feature one on the blog. I take more photos as I love adding visual effects. That kind of makes life more fun. And really, that's what I enjoy about blogging, i.e., it's fun. I've made contacts with lots of people I've never met and I've learned a thing or two. And I like to think that I've put a few poems out into the world that maybe you hadn't seen and that I've helped a few poets sell a few books.

Like that baseball field, it seems that once I built it, people came. Readers have come from all across the US: Oklahoma, Missouri, California, Massachusetts, Florida, and so on. And they've come from outside the US: Canada, Scotland, Germany, India, Holland, Brazil, and Singapore.

Please, have a piece of cake before you leave!

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

To Bio or Not to Bio

Spoon River Poetry Review is one of my favorite journals and one I almost always list among my credits. I’m proud to have had work published there and hope I will again. But one thing’s been bugging me and that’s the absence of contributors’ notes.

When I read a journal and find a poem I like, I always check out the notes to see what I can learn about the poet. If there’s a book by that poet, I may very likely order it. Also, if the poet writes the kind of poem I like, I’m interested to see where else that poet has published. Maybe somewhere I’d like to try myself.

When Spoon River’s editor, Lucia Getsi, recently stepped aside and Bruce Guernsey took over, I hoped that one change he’d bring about would be the addition of contributors’ notes. But no. In fact, the editorial in the new issue addresses and defends their absence. It seems that I’m not the only subscriber / reader / poet who would like to see notes. Others, like me, have e-mailed Guernsey to say so.

But Guernsey argues that the notes are a distraction, that they draw attention away from the poems. I think just the opposite is true. I like to check out the note and then return to the poem for a closer read. And if I buy the poet’s book, the poet's work is getting even more of my attention. To omit the notes is, in my opinion, not giving fair attention to the creator of the work and is depriving the poet of a wider audience.

Guernsey then moves onto another reason. Pages. He prefers to use the 4-5 pages that notes would occupy for more poems. Well, I might buy that except that the regular Illinois poet feature in this issue gets a full 51 pages. 51! That includes a one-page bio with photo, a seven-page interview, and 43 pages of poems. So here’s where the 4-5 pages for bio notes could come from. Perhaps the interview could be abbreviated and perhaps just a few poems could be omitted. This would free up the pages for bio notes. And we’d still get a very generous sampling of the featured poet’s fine work.

Guernsey also points out that the bio notes are a nuisance for the journal’s staff as poets keep updating them. And then the editors have to re-do the work they’ve already done. Easy solution: Don’t allow updates.

And then the problem of equity. What if one poet sends in a note that’s longer than the other notes? That’s easy, too. Set a maximum limit and stick to it. Maybe 50 words. Maybe 3-4 sentences.

Like any sensible person making an argument, Guernsey deals with the opposition, which is essentially what I said above about readers wanting to know more about the poet. He offers a solution. Readers can research the poet online. No, I’m sorry that just isn’t the same thing and it’s not really feasible. Sure, I can. But will I? I like the immediate gratification of having the information right there at the back of the journal. This journal’s practice of listing the poet’s state next to his or her name in the table of contents simply does not satisfy, and placing the state in parenthesis as this issue now does, does not, as Guernsey hopes, make the information any more useful than it was without the parenthesis.

To prove my point about the internet not being entirely satisfactory, I googled two of the poets whose work I especially liked. First I checked out Elizabeth Klise von Zerneck. According to the table of contents, she’s from Illinois, but I don’t really cares where she lives, so I went to the internet. I found numerous links to journals where she’s listed as a contributor. And she’s mentioned on a blog for a poem in Poet Lore. Not really too informative.

Then I googled Victoria Brockmeier from New York, and I learned that this poet has been on Verse Daily. At that site, I found a bio which says she teaches at the University of Buffalo. But then I found another link that says she lives in Louisiana. Two Victoria Brockmeiers? But as I read on, I discovered that the Buffalo Victoria earned an MFA at Louisiana State University. One poet who moved? Hard to say. A current bio note in Spoon River would have obliterated this confusion. Also, I had to go five links down to discover that Victoria B. won the 2008 T. S. Eliot Prize. What a shame to omit that excellent news from Spoon River. (Just to add a touch of irony here, if you visit Spoon River's website, you'll see that websites are not always kept up to date.)

So please, please, give us contributors’ notes.

But kudos for the new ongoing feature, “Poets on Teaching.” This issue’s feature article is by Sheryl St. Germain, a poet whose work I just recently came across. She’s terrific. And the article is useful. It presents two good activities for poets who teach to use in their workshops.

I was also happy to see a double-review by Lucia Getsi, and then to read in the editorial that the plan is to include more reviews, something I’ve also hoped to see more of in Spoon River.

And then there’s the poetry. I knew fewer names in this issue than I usually know, but that’s fine. It’s always great to come across new poets and poems. Now if only I could get some more information about them from contributors’ notes.

But still one of my favorite journals.

Check out Robert Brewer’s Poetic Asides for a discussion on what ought to go into bio notes. A number of poets contributed their thoughts on the subject.

Poet's sloppy desk

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Saturday, July 19, 2008

Brockton Reading

I'm still in Brockton, Massachusetts. I drove up on Friday and have been staying in the Holiday Inn, enjoying room service and air conditioning. The purpose of the trip was the reading I gave this afternoon at the Brockton Public Library, a beautiful library with a perfect downstairs room for their reading series. Also featured was the art of Tehanne Shabazz who does amazing work. Her art was displayed in the reading room and upstairs.

The series is run by Frank Miller. It's a wonderful program. Prior to the reading is a two-hour workshop for which they bring in a facilitator. Then the open reading is held 2:15-3:15. That is followed by the featured poet's reading. The people running this series have made a big commitment to bring art into Brockton and to bring poetry to the people. Fortunately, they have a very supportive librarian assisting their efforts.

In spite of atrocious heat, 23 people came for the reading. Beverages were available along with fresh fruit, muffins, and cookies. The group was warmly responsive. After this very enjoyable reading, I return to New Jersey tomorrow, happy that I made the trip to Brockton. If you're in the area, check out their series and support it.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Reading at Cornelia Street Cafe

Last night was the Cornelia Street Cafe reading. I read with JC Todd, a fellow Wind poet. Our turnout was rather sparse—10 including JC's daughter, two pals, and the host. Six young people showed up. This place charges people $7 to get in, but that includes one drink. It's a nifty venue. Reading room downstairs is long and narrow. Tables set with little candles. Stage at the far end of the room. My friend drove in with me. This was the first time I've ever driven into NYC even though I live only 26 miles away. I am fearless about driving other places, but NY has always terrified me. But this really wasn't too bad. At least we made it in and home again safely. Luckily, we found a parking space right in front of the Cafe. My friend was nice enough to run out several times to feed the meter. Here are some photos from the reading.

Mystery man in the distance on the bike. Can you tell which famous movie actor that is? He was sitting at a cafe table on the sidewalk when we arrived.

Closer view. Now can you identify this man?

JC Todd reading from her new book, What Space This Body.

Me reading from What Feeds Us. And some new work.

Friends, visual artist Arlene Hyman and poet Madeline Tiger.

Two happy members of our audience. Isn't it nice that they dressed to match the decor?

Three more members of the audience, caught at a bad angle.

JC Todd and our host, Angelo Verga

After the reading we chatted with the audience a bit. Then we went upstairs for dinner. It was excellent! I had a lovely fresh mesclun salad and the best mushroom risotto I've ever had.

I wish you could have been there. Maybe next time.

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Sunday, July 13, 2008

You Come, Too

I'll be reading this Tuesday, July 15, at the Cornelia Street Cafe, 29 Cornelia St, NYC. The reading begins at 6:00 PM. $7.00 cover charge buys you one drink. I'll be reading with JC Todd who has a recently released first book out, What Space This Body, from Wind Publications. This is a nifty venue in a nice, safe area, parking on the street or in a parking garage. The Cafe has a dinner menu. Lots of other restaurants in the area. If you're anywhere nearby, please join us!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Summer Submissions—Part 3

Here's the third and final installment of the list of print journals that read during the summer. Again, please let me know if you spot an error. And be sure to check the guidelines for specifics. Most, if not all, of these journals have websites.

Reminder of how the list works:
**indicates that simultaneous submission is ok
x indicates the number of times the journal publishes per year.
If dates are not included, that means the journal reads all year.

Poetry--11x-online subs

**Poetry Miscellany-1x-tabloid-e-mail

The Rambler-6x-prefers no sims

**Rattle-2x—email subs ok

**Redactions—1x—by email


**Rhino-1x-April thru Oct 1

River Oak Review--2x

**River Styx-2x-May thru Nov



**Smartish Pace--2x-deadlines July 1 &
Dec 1

**South Dakota Review-4x

Southern Humanities Review--4x

**Southern Poetry Review—2x

**The Sun-12x

**Swink—2x (hiatus)

**Third Coast--2x—begin Aug. 1-email

**Tiferet: A Journal of Spiritual Literature-2x


**Tusculum Review—1x--April 1-Nov 15

**Verse-3x (closed through August 08)

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Monday, July 7, 2008

Summer Submissions—Part 2

Here's the second installment of the list of journals that read during the summer. This list begins with one that I omitted from the first list, so it's out of alphabetical order. Just in case you think I can't alphabetize nicely. Again, please let me know if you spot an error. And be sure to check the guidelines for specifics. Most, if not all, of these journals have websites.

Reminder of how the list works:
**indicates that simultaneous submission is ok
x indicates the number of times the journal publishes per year.
If dates are not included, that means the journal reads all year.


**Hayden’s Ferry--2x

**Hiram Poetry Review-1x

Hudson Review-April 1-July 31 (all year if a subscriber)

**Hunger Mountain-2x

**Inkwell-Aug 1-Nov 30

**The Journal--2x


**Knock—2x-email subs okay

**Lake Effect—1x

**Literal Latte--6x

Louisiana Literature-2x

**Lullwater Review --Aug 1-May 31

Madison Review-2x

Manhattan Review-1x

**Margie—June 1-Aug 1-1x
subscriber all year

Michigan Quarterly Review

**Mid-American Review-2x-slower summ

**The Midwest Quarterly Review--4x

Missouri Review-3x--6-12 poems

**Natural Bridge-July 1-Aug 31-2x

**New American Writing—June-Jan—1x

**New Orleans Review--2x

**New York Quarterly—3x


North American Review-6x



**Poet Lore--2x

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Saturday, July 5, 2008

Summer Submissions

Summertime is when many of us have more time. More time for at last sending off some of those poems that have been waiting for our attention. The problem is that a number of the journals you have on your list don't read in the summer. Still, there are a number of journals that do read in the summer or at least part of the summer. Here's part of my list of those journals. If this seems useful, I'll post more in a later post. Please note that these are all print journals. Also, please note that it might not be one hundred percent accurate as journals often change their guidelines. Check guidelines at the journal's website. Then please, if you find an error, let me know. Good luck!

**indicates that simultaneous submission is ok
x indicates the number of times the journal publishes per year.
If dates are not included, that means the journal reads all year.

**American Poetry Journal—2x
(summer only for subscribers)

American Poetry Review--6x-tabloid

**Another Chicago Magazine-2x-Feb-Aug 31

**The Artful Dodge--1x--6 poems

**Ascent-3x, shorter poems pref

**Asheville Poetry Review--3x--deadline July 15

**Atlanta Review--deadlines June 1 & Dec 1

**Baltimore Review-2x (sub by email)

**Barn Owl Review—1x—June 1--Nov. 30—email sub

**Barrow Street--2x

**Bat City Review—May 1-Nov 1-1x

**Bateau—year round—2x—email sub

Beloit Poetry Journal--3x

Birmingham Poetry Review-2x--deadlines Nov 1 & May 1

**Black Warrior Review-2x

**Briar Cliff Review--1x-Aug 1-Nov 1

**Burnside Review—2x—email sub ok

**Caketrain—1x—email sub ok

**Cave Wall--Aug--Sept

**Center—July 1-Nov. 30

Cider Press Review--1x-email subs--April 1-Aug 31

**Cimarron Review-4x

**Columbia Poetry Review—Aug 1-Nov 30


**Connecticut Poetry Review-1x

**Connecticut Review--deadlines Sept 1 & Feb 1

**Crab Orchard Review (for special issue)

**Cranky—email sub-3x


5 AM--2x-tabloid

**Five Fingers-1x-June 1-Aug 30

**The Florida Review--2x

Fulcrum-1x-June thru August 31

**Gargoyle-1x--June 1--Sept

**Greatcoat—2x—email subs only


**The Grove Review—Aug 1 deadline

Hanging Loose--3x

**Harpur Palate—2x

**Hayden’s Ferry--2x

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