Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Crafty Poet: Sample Poem Contributors

In a previous post about The Crafty Poet, I bragged about the list of poets who contributed Craft Tips, Q&As, and model poems for prompts. Now I want to brag about the poets who contributed the sample poems written to the prompts.

Towards the end of putting the manuscript together, I sent out a call for submissions to all of the subscribers to my Poetry Newsletter. I created a website page with links to all of the past model poems and prompts. I subsequently invited others to join in.

The book contains 27 model poems and prompts. Therefore, I needed 54 sample poems since I wanted two sample poems for each prompt. I wanted sample poems that would illustrate the various possibilities the prompts might suggest.

Before I sent out the call, I was a bit worried that I might not get enough submissions. After all, some of the prompts were from newsletter issues that went back more than two years. However, the spots filled amazingly and gratifyingly fast.

I was thrilled to have all the spots filled within a few weeks. And I was thrilled with the quality of the poems I received. Sadly, there were many poems I had to turn away simply because the spots were already filled.

So here's the list of the 45 fabulous contributors of sample poems:

Joel Allegretti
Linda Benninghoff

Broeck Blumberg
Rose Mary Boehm
Bob Bradshaw

Kelly Cressio-Moeller
Rachel Dacus
Ann DeVenezia
Liz Dolan
Kristina England

Laura Freedgood
Gail Gerwin
Erica Goss
Jeanie Greensfelder
Constance Hanstedt
Penny Harter
John Hutchinson
Wendy Elizabeth Ingersoll                                             
Tina Kelley

Claire Keyes

Laurie Kolp
Antoinette Libro

Charlotte Mandel
   Joan Mazza
   Janet McCann
   Nancy Bailey Miller
   Thomas Moudry
   Drew Myron
   Shawnte Orion
   Donna Pflueger

   Wanda Praisner
   Susanna Rich
   Ken Ronkowitz
   Basil Rouskas
   Nancy Scott
   Martha Silano

   Linda Simone

   Melissa Studdard
   Lisken Van Pelt Dus                                     
   Jeanne Wagner
   Ingrid Wendt

   Scott Wiggerman 
   Bill Wunder
   Michael T. Young
   Sandy Zulauf

Monday, July 22, 2013

Poetry Salon: Debra Bruce

I am happy to host today's Poetry Salon for Debra Bruce. I first met Debra on the Wompo Poetry Listserv. I then had the pleasure of meeting her in person at the West Chester Poetry Conference when we both served as panelists on a critical seminar exploring undervalued women poets. Debra's latest poetry collection is Survivors' Picnic, a collection filled with a variety of masterful form poems. Debra is also the author of three previous collections. She lives in Illinois and is a professor emeritus at Northeastern Illinois University.

Debra is going to speak with us about Survivors' Picnic.

DL: Tell us how you went about writing these poems and assembling them into a collection.

DEB: I wrote the poems over a period of 15 years, along with many others that didn’t make it into my book. I’m an embarrassingly slow writer, and during these years I was busy teaching full-time and raising my son. Sometimes I wrote in direct response to the events of my life—mothering, breast cancer survival, and the end of a long marriage. Sometimes I would get an idea for a project-poem or series—a sequence about the six wives of Henry VIII, for example, which budded while I was teaching the court poets of the 16th century—especially Thomas Wyatt. I wrote two of the poems—two wives—but couldn’t find a way to do the other four. Sometimes I wrote poems just to exercise in a specific form, which I love to do, trying my hand at the ballade, villanelle, and a few pantoums. And as I read during these years, I fell under the spell of writers like Kay Ryan, whose example enabled me to write some of what I consider my strongest poems. Reading Ryan made me feel that I’d been given permission to bask in sounds—internal rhyme, assonance, and alliteration—something that had been frowned upon during the “plain style” decades. Ryan also showed me how to be more oblique rather than direct or explicit—a good lesson for someone who had studied with Anne Sexton back in '73, as I was just starting out.

When I decided to put the manuscript together, I discovered poems that didn’t hold up, some that didn’t fit in, and a general repetition of sounds, images, and subjects. Several poems, even some that I’d published in good literary journals and that I personally liked, had to go. I’m glad I waited as long as I did because it enabled me to do this kind of winnowing, and I think the book is stronger for it.

DL: Tell us the story behind your cover.

DEB: When I published my earlier books, first with the University of Arkansas Press, and then with Miami University, I had a helpful staff to design covers for me. This time, with Word Press (Word Tech Editions), an independent press, I was on my own. Clueless, I started asking other poets, and someone suggested I check out the collection at Woman Made Gallery in Chicago, a great venue for women poets as well as visual artists. Suzanne Keith Loechl had done a series of empty dresses on clotheslines set against deeply colored, swirling landscapes. I had looked at hundreds of images online, and when I found her work, that was it. I was thrilled when she agreed to let me use her image. As it turned out, this painting, “I Dreamed I Could Dance,” had become part of a website Suzanne created to honor friends she’d lost to breast cancer. No wonder it spoke to me. 

DL: How did you select the title for your book?

DEB: Titles have always been difficult for me. When I was married, my then-husband often came up with titles for individual poems and even books. My previous publishers had editors who had a knack for it, too. This time I was on my own. One of the poems in the book, “Annual Survivors’ Picnic,” felt like a “title poem,” but the wording wasn’t quite right for the whole collection—“annual” pins it down to a single event. Survivors’ Picnic sounded good, suggesting the shadow of fear that all survivors live with, and the deepening of life’s meaning and pleasure created by that shadow, as shade can deepen the beauty of color. 

DL: What do you hope readers will take away from your book?

DEB: I hope readers will take away a phrase or line that they can’t shake out of their heads—the music of it as much as what it says. And if a reader has experienced something I’ve written about, I hope she or he will feel that I’ve articulated the experience just right—nailed it.

DL: Please choose a favorite poem for us and, if you like, tell us why you chose this one.

DEB: “Plunder” is a poem I would choose as a favorite because it makes music, which is of utmost importance to me. (Frost famously said, “All the fun’s in how you say a thing.) And it’s also a poem that can speak to many different experiences, though I had a specific experience in mind when I wrote it. I love poetry when it’s clear but not confined. Emily Dickinson has a powerful poem that starts, “I’ve dropped my Brain—My Soul is numb—,” which describes some kind of emotional or spiritual dark place or psychic freeze, describing it vividly and concretely without specifying what caused it.


Now that your surgery’s
savagery’s smoothed over
and the calm you’ve put on is balm
for all, and in the interstices
between catastrophes you find yourself
enjoying joy;
now that your Why?
is wisely subsiding, knowing no one
knows why one grows gold
slowly and one’s bright green gets torched

in this intensely present
tense, in its rush
of cherished perishables, you might splurge
skyward, spreading
your colors in a freefall
never dared before; or
with minimal fanfare slip
into the life you left, the least
predictable most delectable,
in whose midsummer noon you pop
a flip-top in thirst, and think…
and though you simply sip,
deeply drink.

Let's listen now to Debra's wonderful reading of "Plunder."

Please stay for the Reception. Help yourself to a glass of Malbec, some brie and cheddar on crackers, fresh fruit, and don't forget the Belgian chocolates.

Overheard at the Party: “Debra Bruce's poetry is a secret treasure—to be discovered and read and re-read.  Every lover of language can partake of Bruce's passionate picnic.”—Molly Peacock

Before you leave, be sure to pick up a copy of Survivors' Picnic.

Click Cover for Amazon

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Crafty Poet: The Contributors & a Contest

I am so very proud of the cast of poets who have contributed to my almost-here book, The Crafty Poet: A Portable Workshop. In fact, I think this is such an impressive list that my publisher and I decided to use their names on the book's back cover instead of blurbs. A total of fifty-six poets contributed the 27 Craft Tips, the 10 Poet on the Poem Q&As, and the 27 model poems that go with the prompts.

Among these 56 poets are 13 former and current state Poets Laureate. Now here's the contest: the first person to match up the 13 Poets Laureate with their respective states will win a free copy of the book. I'm going to switch comments to moderation, so post your answers in the Comments section. Once there's a winner, I'll post the correct answers and announce the winner.

An additional 45 poets contributed the sample poems written in response to the prompts. This is also an impressive list—and not surprisingly, the poems they contributed are also impressive. I'll post those names another time.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Ode to a Cronut

I love pastries. Last week my daughter told me about the newly invented Cronut. This delight was invented by the pastry chef at the Dominique Ansel Bakery on Spring St. in NYC. But its fans have spread far and wide. In fact, the pastry's fame has spread so far that some people refer to it as "a viral pastry." Half croissant, half doughnut, this pastry hybrid is filled with cream and topped with glaze. It is so delicate that it must be cut with a serrated knife.

The bakery produces just one flavor per month. The owner recommends that if you really want one of these cronuts—and there's a 2 per person limit—you should be outside in line by 7:15 AM, prepared to wait for up to two hours. The bakery prepares only one flavor per month. Just invented in May, the cronut so far has come in only three flavors.

The day after my daughter told me about the Cronut I heard two anchors on the morning news swooning over the confection, both saying it was the best they'd ever had. Now I deeply desire to have one myself.

And for some reason, I'm obsessing about the cronut. I can't get it out of my head. That, hopefully, means that at some point a poem will emerge—just in case you were wondering what any of this has to do with poetry. But it's also occurred to me that the cronut is itself like one of those good poems that fuses together two unlikely components and is constructed in layers.

So I've been dreaming up a few poetic challenges. See what you can do with any of these possibilities:

1. Write a poem about the Cronut.
2. Write a poem that fuses together two unlikely subjects.
3. Write a poem about your favorite pastry.

Line outside the bakery the morning the Blackberry Cronut 
was released

The Blackberry Cronut

Check out the Cronut Facebook page.  Be prepared to drool.

Check out the bakery page on Facebook.  Here you'll find out all the history and controversy, yes, controversy, surrounding the cronut.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Crafty Poet: Unveiling the Cover

My book, The Crafty Poet: A Portable Workshop, is moving right along. The galleys have been proofed and returned. Page numbers have been added to the Contents. And the cover has been designed.

In spite of having proofread the manuscript countless times before sending it off to my publisher months ago, I found some errors that I'd overlooked back then. Now I wonder how the heck did I miss that? and that? With this recent reading, each time I went through the manuscript I found a few more things I'd missed. Mostly small stuff like an extra space, but I want the book to be as close to right as I can make it. (I'm avoiding saying "perfect.")

Organizing this book was a huge challenge as it contains work from more than two years, work from this blog and from my Poetry Newsletter, work written by me and work written by other poets. In the Newsletter it doesn't matter if the poem and prompt coordinate with the Craft Tip, but for the book I needed to logically organize the material. I made a list of everything I planned to use in the book. Then I stared at that list for days/weeks until a plan began to form. That plan, of course, changed through multiple drafts, but once I had a plan, I knew I was going to get the job done.

Because the book includes writing contributed by other poets, the big challenge in editing/polishing was to achieve consistency of style throughout the text. Some writers, for example, put commas around "too" when it means "also." Other writers do not. Some writers use the period key to create an ellipsis. Others use Option plus the semi-colon key. Either is correct but the look is slightly different. I wanted all the ellipses to look the same. (I have come to hate the ellipsis.) Stuff like that was sort of crazy-making, but I'm still here. And I'm thrilled with the book and can't wait to have it here. That should happen this summer.

In the meantime, here's an advance view of the cover. I'm very happy with this. It feels just right for a craft book.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...