Thursday, September 2, 2021

The Strategic Poet Available for Pre-Orders

I'm thrilled to tell you that The Strategic Poet: Honing the Craft is now available for pre-orders.

Pre-orders available at:



114 fabulous poets have work in this book, poets as George Bilgere, Jan Beatty, Traci Brimhall, Annie Finch, Camille Dungy, Danusha Lameris, Ada Limon, Matthew Olzmann, Diane Seuss, and Dean Young (see back cover below for the complete list).


The book is organized into 13 sections, each devoted to a specific poetic strategy:

I. Descriptive Details

II. Diction

III. Imagery

IV. Sound Devices

V. Repetition

VI. Figurative Language: Simile

VII. Figurative Language: Metaphor

VIII. Figurative Language: Personification

IX. Figurative Language: Hyperbole

X. Figurative Language: Apostrophe

XI. Syntax

XII. Sonnet

XIII. Odd Forms

In addition to the section strategies listed above, many other techniques are covered along the way.

Each section begins with a Craft Talk devoted to the section strategy, then is followed by 3 model poems. Each model poem is accompanied by analysis of its craft elements. Each model poem's analysis is followed by a prompt which asks the reader/writer/poet to do what the model poem does.

One model poem in each section is followed by a Commentary from the poet who wrote the poem. I solicited these commentaries and invited the poets to comment on a specific element of their poem.

Each model poem's prompt is followed by 2 sample poems to illustrate what might be done with the prompts and to illustrate that outstanding poems can result from prompts. These 78 poems were submitted by an additional 72 poets.

Each section ends with an additional 3 prompts. These 39 prompts were solicited from a variety of fabulous poets who also teach.

The book's official release date is October 13, but you can pre-order now. Pre-orders are lovely as they dramatically affect early sales to online bookstores such as Barnes & Noble and Amazon. They also affect the kind and number of promotions that such sites do for a title. So if you'd go ahead and pre-order now, you'd be doing me a very nice service. Plus, you would then have the book by the release date.

This book can be used by poets working independently, by poets in writing groups, and by poets in workshops. It should also make an ideal text for the poetry classroom.

Thanks for your support throughout the writing/editing of this book. You are an important part of it even if your work isn't in it.

Pre-orders available at:




Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Terrapin Books Open in August for Submissions

 Call for Submissions of Full-Length Poetry Collections

We will be open for submissions of full-length poetry manuscripts from January 24 thru February 28 and August 1 thru August 31.

We plan to select 2-4 manuscripts each submission period.
​All submissions must go through Submittable.
Please read our FAQs page before submitting.
Any questions, please use the email address or the Contact Form on the Contact page.
Go HERE to Submit.
Guidelines are as follows:
A manuscript of approximately 40-55 poems. This will produce a book of approximately 90-110 pages. (Please note that your book will always be more pages than your manuscript. Page count for the book includes poems, front and back matter, blank pages, and section dividers).

Include contact information on title page (we do not read anonymous submissions)

One inch margins all around

Include Table of Contents

Include page numbers

Include Acknowledgments Page
  • List poems and journal titles rather than just a list of journal titles. Format as a list, not as a paragraph.
  • Please note that we allow a maximum of 6 poems from a previously published chapbook. Regardless of the number of chapbooks, it’s no more than 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, not a blurb

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

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

Please note that there is a minimal $12 reading fee to help cover our costs.

If you are resubmitting a manuscript, please explain in your cover letter how you revised it.

​We strongly suggest that you peruse at least one book from Terrapin Books before submitting. We suggest that you peruse the work of any press before you submit.

​Please note that at this time we are unable to accept manuscripts from outside of the US.
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, perfect bound, color cover, with printed spine (poet's name, title, press).

We are committed to publishing accepted titles within six to ten 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 the author, and an annual royalty payment.

Friday, June 4, 2021

The Strategic Poet: Book Update

The new craft book is moving right along. I now have all the content gathered: Thirteen Craft Talks, 36 Model Poems with 36 Prompts, 13 Commentaries, 39 Bonus Prompts, and 72 Sample Poems (written to the prompts). Permissions are done and bios are almost done. Contents is underway.

Still to be done is the Introduction. Then the dreaded Index. Then the editing and proofreading. Then the monumentally huge formatting job. Then more proofreading. Etc!

In case you're curious, here are the section headings:

I. Descriptive Details

II. Diction

III. Imagery

IV. Sound Devices

V. Repetition

VI. Figurative Language: Simile

VII. Figurative Language: Metaphor

VIII. Figurative Language: Personification

IX. Figurative Language: Hyperbole

X. Figurative Language: Apostrophe

XI. Syntax

XII. Sonnet

XIII. Odd Forms

In my last blog post, I listed all the poets who contributed Craft Talks, Model Poems, Commentaries, and Bonus Prompts. Since then I put out a Call for Submissions for the Sample Poems. The poems poured in, and I'm happy to say that all 72 spots filled quickly. Here's the list of poets whose sample poems will appear in the book:

Tiel Aisha Ansari
KB Ballentine

Nina Bennett
Libby Bernardin
Nancy Susanna Breen

Ronda Piszk Broatch
Jayne Brown

Luanne Castle

Robin Rosen Chang

Robin Chapman

Kersten Christianson
Patricia Clark
Cathryn Colman

Gail Comorat
Geraldine Connolly

Jane Mary Curran

Jessica de Koninck

Maureen Doallas
Lynn Domina
Robert Fillman
Ann Fisher-Wirth
Emily Franklin

Deborah Gerrish
Holiday Goldfarb
Lucy Griffith
Penny Harter
Lisa Hase-Jackson
Shayla Hawkins

Andrea Hollander
Karen Paul Holmes
Jenny Hubbard
Christen Noel Kauffman
Tina Kelley

Adele Kenny

Jemshed Khan

Athena Kildegaard
Kim Klugh
Lynne Knight

Marcia LeBeau
Diane LeBlanc
Denise Low
Charlotte Mandel
Joan Mazza

Maren Mitchell

Erin Murphy

Dion O’Reilly

Jenna Rindo
Janet Ruth

Jennifer Saunders

Linda Simone

Kate Sontag

Betsy Thorne
Denise Utt
Lisken Van Pelt Dus
Kory Wells
Bruce Whitacre
Scott Wiggerman
Shannon K. Winston
Elizabeth Wolf

Michael T. Young

Yvonne Zipter

Friday, April 30, 2021

New Book Coming Soon: The Strategic Poet

Not the real cover!

I am up to my neck working on a new craft book, The Strategic Poet. This one will be similar to my previous craft books—The Crafty Poet, The Crafty Poet II, and The Practicing Poet—as the emphasis will be on gaining mastery of the elements of poetry. Like the earlier books, it will be aimed at practicing poets who already know the basics and want to move beyond them. But this book will also include some unique features. Instead of Craft Tips, there will be Craft Talks. These will be sharply focused on a particular craft strategy. I solicited these from poets I love and am thrilled with the lineup. 

Again there will be model poems, each followed by an analysis of the poem's craft elements and then a prompt based on those elements. A new feature of this book will be Commentaries in each section. Each commentary will be written by a poet on some specific aspect of craft in his/her model poem. This book, like the earlier ones, will include Bonus Prompts, but they will be done by poets other than me—and there will be more of them, a total of 39. These I solicited from poets who are both outstanding poets and teachers. While the earlier books each had 10 sections, this one will have 13, a baker's dozen. A total of 87 accomplished poets will contribute the model poems, craft talks, commentaries, and bonus prompts.

Finally, each of the 36 prompts that follow the model poems will be followed by 2 sample poems. These sample poems will be written to the prompts (at least as a starting point) and submitted for consideration.

Model Poem Poets (each poem is followed by analysis of its craft elements and then a prompt based on those elements)
Melanie McCabe

Jesse Graves

Brad Aaron Modlin

Catherine Pierce

Craig van Rooyen

George Drew

Pamela Baggett

Sara Moore Wagner

Lynn McGee 

Kate Gaskin

Ada Limón

Lois Marie Harrod

George Bilgere

Camille Dungy

Robert Fillman

Sean Shearer

Dean Young

Frank X Walker

Matthew Olzmann

Tina Kelley

David O’Connell

Dara Elerath

Melanie Figg

Traci Brimhall

Nicole Callihan

Adam Tavel

James Scruton

Rob Shapiro

Jared Harél

Jessica Piazza

Beth Copeland

Elise Hempel

Carolyne Wright
Matthew Yeager

J.P. Grasser

Craft Talk Poets (each talk targets and deepens the section’s main craft strategy)
Ellen Bass

Todd Kaneko

Lauren Camp

Annie Finch

David Graham

Danusha Laméris

Jan Beatty

Meg Kearney

Peter Murphy

Dion O’Reilly

Marilyn L. Taylor

Diane Seuss

Tami Haaland  

Commentary Poets (each poet offers a focused commentary on a single craft element in his/her poem)
Jesse Graves
Craig van Rooyen
Sara Moore Wagner
Lois Marie Harrod
Camille Dungy
Sean Shearer
Tina Kelley
Dara Elerath
Melanie Figg
James Scruton
Jared Harél
Beth Copeland
J.P. Grasser

Bonus Prompt Poets (3 bonus prompts in each section focus on the section’s main craft strategy)
Lance Larsen
Caitlin Doyle
Adele Kenny
Michael T. Young
J.C. Todd
Cat Doty
Joy Gaines-Friedler
Kerrin McCadden
BJ Ward
Patricia Clark
Jennifer Franklin
Jeffrey Bean
Allison Joseph

Sample Poem Poets
The date of publication is currently unknown. The manuscript is progressing nicely, but there's still a lot of work to come in and I still have to issue a call for submissions for the sample poems and read the submissions and make selections. Then there will be a huge editing round, followed by a huge proofreading round or two or three. Credits are underway as are the bios, but they remain incomplete. Then there will be a cover to design. But I'm hoping to have this book out in the fall.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Behind the Scenes at Terrapin Books


I was recently invited to do a Q&A with someone who planned to do an article about small press publishers who specialize in poetry books. I don't know why but the article never came to fruition. Rather than waste my work, I've decided to post it here. I hope it might prove informative and useful.
1. How do you determine who to publish?
I run two open readings per year. From the submissions, I select 2-4 manuscripts for publication. I select the ones I like best. I like to get a range of styles and voices and a diversity of poets. But my main guide is the quality of the work. I also consider if the work fits the press. I don’t take experimental poetry or single form collections (i.e., it’s unlikely that I’d take a collection of all sonnets or all haiku or all ekphrastic poems). I ask that a good number of the poems have been previously published and I limit the number of poems previously published in chapbooks to six.

2. How many manuscripts do you receive yearly?
This is a question I like to avoid answering. If it’s a high number, some poets will feel discouraged from submitting. If it’s a low number, some poets will feel that the press is not sufficiently competitive. So I’ll just say that we get a good number of submissions and that number increases each reading period and the quality of the submissions gets better and better. I do not run any contests at Terrapin. I like to think that each of my poets is a winner.
3. Can you share details of a normal agreement? 
Terrapin offers publication within a year of acceptance, an annual royalty,  6” x 9” books with printed spine. I provide each poet with 15 complimentary review copies. Authors also get a 50% discount off list price if they choose to order additional copies to sell on their own. I require that my authors have a dedicated website and belong to Facebook. I expect the poets to actively seek readings and other opportunities to promote their work. I also stipulate that they not publish a new book with a different press within a year of publication of the Terrapin book.
When I was starting Terrapin Books, I contacted several other publishers of small presses. Several of them were kind enough to share their contracts with me. I then created my own contract which I describe as “standard and fair.”
4. What sort of royalties do authors normally get? 
I pay an annual royalty of 15% of net sales. To qualify for a royalty payment, a poet must sell a minimum of 15 books in a given year.
5. Why might an author choose to work with a press like yours versus a similar press?
I typically respond within a month of submission. If accepted, the book gets published within a year. My poets don’t grow old waiting for publication. I carefully edit each accepted manuscript and work closely with each poet. I try to accommodate requests and to keep the poets happy. I respond quickly to emails. Poets are invited to participate in the design of the cover, though final decisions are left to me. I like to think of the entire process as a collaborative one.
6. Can you talk a bit about how you market the work for your authors?
I promote on Twitter and Facebook. I provide each poet with a list of suggested promotion tips. I also provide them with a list of after-publication contests they can submit to. If I know about readings in their part of the country, I pass on that information. I keep a list of reviewers and reach out to them to try to get some reviews for each book. I keep a Terrapin website where each poet gets a book page and an entry in the bookstore.
7. What do they normally have to do in terms of marketing?
I ask poets to send out an email announcement when their book is available for pre-orders and again when the book is published. I ask the poets to include purchase links in that note. And I ask them to send the announcement to an extensive list of friends, relatives, and neighbors—in short, everyone they know. You never know who might buy a book. I also ask my poets to post links on their website to reviews and to include excerpts from those reviews. I ask them to do the same on Facebook and Twitter. I ask them to send out review copies to journals they’ve published in. I ask them to line up readings. I suggest that they throw themselves a launch party. Every new book deserves a party.
8. Are you open to working with new authors, or are you mostly looking for established authors?
I love working with new poets and am happy to have several debut collections. Of the four poets I selected from the last open reading period, three of them have debut collections with Terrapin. But I’m also happy to work with older poets who sometimes feel that they are overlooked by other presses. In fact, I’m happy to work with new and established poets. Again, the quality of the work is the primary consideration.
9. How many copies do you usually expect to sell per book?

I aim for 500 but am happy with 300. Now that I can make the books available for pre-orders, I’m finding that the number of sales has gone up.
10. Is there anything else we should know about how you support your authors?
I give personalized service throughout the process. And I do not forget about my poets once their book has been published. Also I’ve recently started a new series, the Redux series. This series is limited to poets with a previous title with Terrapin, one that has done well. My original intention was to do one book only per poet, but a number of my poets asked for this new opportunity. I hope that means that they enjoyed working with me and are happy to be part of the Terrapin family of poets.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Terrapin Books Now Open for Submissions


I am happy to announce that my poetry press, Terrapin Books, is currently open for submissions of full-length poetry manuscripts. This submission period opened on January 24 and will close on February 28, 2021.

Be sure to read our Guidelines before submitting. Please note that we request both a bio and a descriptive statement with your submission. Be sure to include both. Most questions are answered in our FAQs, so be sure to read that page also.

Our Guidelines ask for a manuscript of approximately 40-55 poems for a book of approximately 90-110 pages (page count includes poems, front and back matter, and section pages). Please note that your book will be longer than your manuscript. If you have 40-55 poems, go ahead and submit. Let us worry about book length.

Here's some general information about the press:

We publish only poetry books, primarily single-author collections but also an occasional craft book or anthology. 

Terrapin Books is committed to publishing outstanding books of poetry by outstanding poets. We intend to fully support our poets. We will carefully 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. We regard the publication of a book as a collaboration between publisher and poet.

Our books are 6 x 9, paperback, perfect bound, color cover, with printed spine (poet's name, title, press). Covers are either matte or glossy. 

We pride ourselves on the beauty of our covers. Please visit our Bookstore to see examples.

We are committed to publishing accepted titles within 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 the author, and an annual royalty payment.

We welcome submissions from poets at any stage in their career. Some of our poets have a long publication history with multiple books. A few of our poets have two books out. And we are very proud to be the publisher of several debut collections.

We look forward to reading your work.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

The Turtle Moves Slowly But It Moves

It hardly seems possible that it was five years ago this month that I started Terrapin Books! And yet our Open Reading period #10 ended on August 31. There's cause for celebration. Each year the number of submissions increases and the quality of those submissions goes up. I accepted four outstanding manuscripts during the August reading period. I also accepted the first two titles for our new Redux Series for poets with a previous Terrapin title.

I wish I could take more manuscripts for publication, but I want to give careful attention to each poet and each book. That means carefully editing each manuscript and going through multiple back and forths during revision and proofreading. There is also a good deal of time that goes into cover design. I look forward to working with the four new Terrapin poets and the two returning poets.

Since starting Terrapin Books, I've published 24 single author collections:

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
Ann Keniston, Somatic
Yvonne Zipter, Kissing the Long Face of the Greyhound 
Heather Swan, A Kinship with Ash

In addition, the first title in our Redux series has just been published. This will be followed by the second title in February:
Patricia Clark, Self-Portrait with a Million Dollars 
Hayden Saunier, A Cartography of Home (forthcoming)

Terrapin expects to publish the four recently accepted manuscripts in 2021. Look for new books by the following poets:

Robin Rosen Chang
Meghan Sterling
Jeff Ewing
Diane LeBlanc

While our main focus is on single-author collections, we’ve also published three 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 we've published three craft books:
The Crafty Poet: A Portable Workshop
The Crafty Poet II: A Portable Workshop
The Practicing Poet: Writing Beyond the Basics

A fourth craft book is underway but still very embryonic.

Terrapin looks forward to continuing to publish poetry books.We pride ourselves on the quality of our books and the beauty of their covers. We also pride ourselves on the collaborative relationship we try to build with each poet.

We hold two open reading periods each year. Our next open reading period will be January 24 - February 28, 2021. Guidelines are posted at the website. Perhaps you’ll join our list of poets?

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