Thursday, December 24, 2009

Ok, Copyright Infringement

We live in a digital age, when poets submit work to journals and contests via email, making it easier than ever to take digital copies of work and distribute them electronically without the author's permission.

For poets like me, this means that I have had work published without my permission twice. In both cases, the work published was a collection of poems rather than a single poem.

The logical step is to ask them to take it down. While internet publications will often disqualify you from other publication with the same work (especially in the case of single poems, editors were not willing to continue to consider them at most journals after they were published without my permission) I was lucky that the publishers who chose my manuscripts as winners of their chapbook contests were willing to take them even though they had been published by rogue internet publications without my permission.

What happens when a publisher continues, after a warning and plea to stop, to keep your work published online? Do you have any recourses to make them stop?

Yes. Your work is more valuable than you may know. It is protected, and even though poetry has very little "real world" value in most cases, infringing on your copyright is punishable with significant damages.

Yes, it's likely a non-profit that did it. Do you really want to bankrupt a non-profit?

I guess it depends on how big of assholes they were about it. For some poets, not being able to publish their work in the best venue possible means a major career obstacle and wasted contest fees. If a non-profit is cavalier about the real-world effect they have on a poet's life because of their illegal treatment of her work, they deserve a big wake-up call. Like getting sued.

It's easier than you might think to do it.

I found some very helpful pages that gave me a new understanding of my rights in this situation and I want to share them with you, fellow poets and publishers. (That's right, I'm a publisher too! See MisFit.)

An overview of copyrights.

Where to register your copyright, with lots of FAQs.

So here's my understanding from the overview and the copyright office.

1. As soon as you write a poem, it exists in a "fixed form" that can be communicated, say by email. You now own the copyright and are protected by copyright law.
2. If someone distributes or performs your poem in public, like on the internet, without your permission, that infringes your rights.
3. You can register your poem/collection and take action.
4. The remedies laid out in the overview I found are a. injunction b. damages c. statutory damages d. attorney's fees and e. impounding the infringing material.

So even though there may not be a cash number that you lose because of the infringement, statutory damages, according to the article, says you can collect at least $500 dollars of damages up to $20,000. If the court thinks the publisher/infringer did it on purpose, they could give you up to $100,000 dollars of damages.

That's right. The US government says your poem is worth at least $500 if somebody steals it.

Publishers, it is worth your time to be considerate of poets' rights!! You might not think that publishing without permission is a big deal, but if the poet does, and gets a lawyer, you could be fined big bucks! Get contracts, and keep track of them. This is serious. EDIT: Check out Fair Use Exemptions! I am a big fan of Fair Use.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I hate to admit it, I can't read another poem right now!

Poetry book a week project temporarily on hold. Postcard poem a week project: go!

Photo by Vivek Chugh

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Has To Thank Puddinghouse Press

Thanks to the editor at Puddinghouse's nice words about my two chapbooks and her suggestion that I send her some new work, I wrote a whole bunch of monster poems which I think are awesome. Got three coming out in Copper Nickel! Thanks Jen at Puddinghouse!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

I shouldn't but I am: In the Vein of Free Poetry

Here's a list of places where you can read poetry from lit journals for free. If you are too poor to buy a subscription, or if you want to shop around before you buy a big name and then realize it has a different aesthetic, here you go. I think there's easily enough content here as zines come out, and as magazines update their samples, to fill ease poetry hunger pains!

But lit mags you like if you have cash! You don't want them to go all Quarterly West on you :(


Kenyon Review Online
Pebble Lake Review
Diane Lockward's Picks
Samples from Current Issues:

Missouri Review
Beloit Poetry Journal also features a poem of the day from the BPJ archives.
Black Warrior Review also has online content.
Field has sample poems from current and past issues.
The Gettysburg Review
The Greensboro Review
Gulf Coast
The Laurel Review

and more later!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Good News For Me: Two Chapboooks Forthcoming

I have two great pieces of news. My chapbook Fragrant Inferno, poems appearing on Thirty First Bird Review, won the Anabiosis Press Chapbook Competition!

And my chapbook Broken Plums on the Sidewalk, poems appearing in Puerto del Sol, Gulf Coast,Cider Press Review, Locuspoint:Phoenix , Pebble Lake Review, and Bone Bouquet won the Mississippi Valley Chapbook Competition!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Poetry Give-Away VII: The True Names of Birds by Susan Goyette

First collection of poems by Canadian writer Susan Goyette, The True Names of Birds, from Brick Press, 1998. Pristine copy available for price of shipping, $2. Otherwise, you can purchase the book here.

The poems of this collection about a recent widow turn daily domesticity into prayers to keep a family safe, or to bring it back. Moments of heartbreak circumvented, but made obvious by their outline. Moments of grace carefully and lovingly detailed and cherished in the face of loss. Goyette's poems tend toward shapeliness, often displaying very even stanzas of free verse. Sweeping statements pop up in inverted narratives and series of surreal logic. Well within the tradition of women's poetry that invokes witchiness and examines family dynamics, The True Names of Birds is at times fairy tale-ish, and involves a good deal of garden and herb imagery.

From "On the Road Crossing the Island,"

"...This road

has filled my shoes with birthstones
and turned my mother into a full
length mirror. There's no point

in trying to cover the flaws."

From "The moon on Friday night"

"...It coaxed buttons
to the lips of buttonholes and whispered, 'you're beautiful,
so beautiful' to women who speak the vernacular

of loneliness."

My favorite poems are "The Mythology of Cures," and "Again to Be a Daughter." The memories of the family built together, and the thought of the children who are grown and gone, and female contemporaries who remain close sustain the widowed speaker in her ability to go forward after loss. As a new mother/poet, The True Name of Birds reminds me to relish my time in the face of what can, and eventually will happen. Carpe diem, I guess. I'm going to hug my husband and call my mom.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Poetry Give-Away VI: Try by Cole Swenson

First person to comment or email me gets a brand new copy of 1999 The Iowa Poetry Prize winner Try by Cole Swenson, for the price of shipping, $2.

Try comes in a square format which accomodates the long line that many of her poems play with. Looking at poems like "Prologue," you might describe Swenson's work as multi-genre, verse mixed with prose that I would not call prose poetry. It is like a nonfiction essay with bursts of lyric poetry at intervals. Try is a great collection for anyone who enjoys ekphrasis. There are a number of different approaches to writing about/in conversation with artwork, and Try illustrates, at my count about four, each reflecting something of the nature of the artwork in a nice organic way: complex and layered, streamlined and focused, ironic and casual, metaphysical and earnest.

The main themes of the collection are religion, hagiography, art, the experience of art. Long sequences, short lyrics, prosey bits.

My favorite poems in this collection are in the section "Triune: After Three Paintings by Olivier Debre." The lines are short, the meaning clear and strange. Here's three stanzas from "Liberty to C."

"The pale green makes the woman
seem freer than the rest of us.

Inside her is a blue egg.
She lives with it,
which is why she looks like that:

No one has wings.
No one lies."

I also really enjoyed the prose poems inspired by Hieronymous Bosch, although I will admit to not knowing who that is or looking it up.

To purchase, go here.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Poetry Give-Away V: Calling His Children Home by Gregory Donovan

Gregory Donovan's book, Calling His Children Home,(winner of the 1993 Devins award for poetry, Univerity of Missouri Press) is a collection of 23 bluesy, sestina-esque poems. They may not have the repetitive word structure of the sestina, but they have the length, density, longer line, and slower pace that these formal poems often have.

My favorie poem in the collection is "Nietzsche in the Engadine." Here's the last stanza, my favorite bit from this book:

"I am safe only in the mountains.
I am every name in history, covered in snow.
And the one name,the small blue stone
nestled in its wooden box, sealed with the kiss
of animal lips on his outstretched palm
like a handful of matches in flames."

This copy is signed, and available for the price of shipping. Estimated $2.

Additional copies available through Amazon.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Awesome Resource. How I'm Spending September

Need a break? Yeah. First write a bunch of essays and shell out some non-refundable processing fees. You could go to France...

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Poetry Give-Away IV: Singularities by Susan Howe

Singularities by Susan Howe.

I read this in grad school and wrote all over it, mostly on the fly-leaf, some underlining, and very obnoxiously I wrote one poem all over page 27. If you're still cool with that, I think $2 will ship this one. If you want a pristine copy, try here.

Howe is mostly concerned with recovering historical voices, layering and mixing language, sometimes literally on the page by disobeying typical typography. An archeology of New England in poetry.

I'll admit I don't really get it. This book is challenging, using archaic spelling and breaking narratives to achieve the feel of little recovered pieces, marginalia and potsherds.

"Visible surface of Discourse

Runes or allusions to runes
Tasks and turning flock"

from "Articulation of Sound Forms in Time" Singularities

Poetry Give Away III: Hat on a Pond by Dara Wier

I read this book in college and wrote all over it. So if you're not up for that, you can get it online here.

Dara Wier's book, Hat on a Pond, seems well situated in surrealism, working in the collage method: the "encounter on an operating table of an umbrella and a sewing machine." Many of her poems are lists of unlikely pairings of nouns and modifiers, example from "Balsam of Myrrh," "ditchwater green grenades." Hat on a Pond mixes up straight collage by weaving in some narrative; the general idea of domesticity confronted with industry, war, loss, and agriculture coalesces over the course of the poems. Abstract assertions loggerhead with the natural world (bizarrely described), form the platform for concrete description or seem to come organically from it; in fact, Hat on a Pond seems a study in the different angles of intersection that the concrete and the abstract can have.

An example of these two impulses, which I think define Hat on a Pond:

"Do you know what's the unluckiest thing
In the world, a differential grasshopper
said to me."

--"Awe of Everything"

My favorite poem is one of the more narrative poems to emerge from the surrealist background, "Devilhorses." The poem has a rural, folkloric listing of bizarre family chores and ends in a fairytale-esque description of the child/narrator's chore. The final revelation about the devilhorses, in fairytale fashion, is both comforting and menacing.

Here's another brief snippet, showing the loveliness that these poetics can achieve, from "A Ghost's List of Alarming Notes After a Drizzling Rain," (another list poem)

"Not one of them went anywhere without their bones,
A light rain dappled their soulpaper."

Link to title poem, "Hat on a Pond."


Vintage Poets: Joanne Kyger and Susan Griffin

According to Wikipedia, both of these poets are alive, so I don't want to insult them. Let's just say the poetry I'm looking at, the earlier poems in one book and poems '79 to '89 in the other. I'm pretty sure 60's, 70's and 80's are vintage now and those are the poems I'm talking about here.

There's an awkward time period in poetry for young poets coming up today, a time period not old enough to be taught as literature, as the critical foundation of poets of old, and not contemporary enough (or for some other reason not in the cannon or in vogue) and so it doesn't make it onto the required reading lists. Vintage poetry! In fact nobody you know, or maybe even your teachers, might have heard of some of the poets writing in the decades just before you were born. I think there are a lot of poets like that. Awesome poets that you have just never heard of.

You might encounter these poems from the 60s, 70s and 80s that you buy at used book stores or book rummages or you get randomly for Christmas presents because you're a poet, or are dusting up the shelves of your local library because somebody coming through your town at some point donated it. And you might read this book that posterity has put in your hands and notice how incredibly outdated or naive or just bad it is. Or maybe you are like, holy crap, this is different.

Being a reader of the winners of the last years' contests and the last years' poetry journals and journal submissions, I see the same sorts of things, the same images and words and poetics popping up in different genres, but still pretty much the same excercises (like a slew of villanelles, or, all of a sudden, a bevy of sonnets, or like, 15 poems with a parrot in it). That's what is so awesome about these books, is that people you know aren't reading them, people you know aren't writing these poems. You've been introduced to something new.

I have two of these books that I think have been almost more helpful to me than most of the books on the required MFA reading list, because these poems just say something in such a way that you think, ok, I could do that. I went through the first book, Bending Home: Selected and New Poems by Susan Griffin, and literally wrote "exercise," "line breaks," "hueristic," on the pages. I felt like I had learned about what a poem could do from this book. The line is super short in most of the poems, the content is often more abstract than I believed we were allowed to be before reading Anne Carson.

Some of my all-time favorite poems are in this book: "Her Sadness Runs Besider Her Like a Horse," and "Love Should Grow Up Like a Wild Iris in the Fields." While I'm trying to get rid of all the books I can live without, xeroxing beautiful poems and jettisoning the book, this book is full of gems, of things I didn't think were possible but can't wait to try.

A little quote from "Summer Night":

"This is civilization.
We have inherited it.
We love the glitter."

The second book, Just Space: Poems 1979-1989 by Joanne Kyger, I literally just started reading to microreview and give it away this upcoming week. Two weeks in a row and I'm not parting with the book I've begun to read! It's just too different, and too long. I want to take everything I can from it before/if I give it away.

From a poetics point of view, it's really interesting. The poetry is verse but has the feel of a prose poem. It sounds a lot in tone and in the way it leaps like The Rooster's Wife, by Russell Edson, or maybe anything by Russell Edson. It's got a narrative pretense but the leaps are lyrical and move the poems toward surrealism even though they are accessable and clearly about everyday narratives. The overall effect is like a dream where you are going through ordinary life but with dream logic, and everything is skewed.

The poems also use white space in a way I haven't seen before, with indentations, terracing, using almost concrete poetry-esque shaping but without any form emerging. The block of text, sometimes very narrow with short lines again, takes up more mental space because it isn't clinging to the left margin like a rat drowning in a bucket. The three or four word lines take up space and that somehow justifies them and gives them weight. It's cool. And then sometimes the indentations are like brackets seperating the different points of view, the narratives of different characters.

The tone of the poems in Just Space is different too, assured, confident, political but not taking itself so seriously. I don't think a fair-use quote is going to do these poems justice, so I won't try. These aren't super condense feeling poems with a bunch of stand-alone lines. The whole thing is an organic, sweeping, relaxed, scattered thing that comes together like an abstract painting. I really enjoy it.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Hayden Ferry Review on Amazon: I guess I did it all by myself!

This is just a sidebar: I found one of the issues of HFR that I edited on I am listed as editor!! Crazy! It says right at the top "by Meghan Brinson." This is funny because I'm not even alphabetically the first editor (there were several editors, people, two fiction, two international section, the managing editor, and the other poetry editor). That would be Aimee Baker.

But this is my thrill of the day to see "by Meghan Brinson" on

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Food Poem

Thanks CRWROWPPS for this posting:

Alimentum Poetry Contest is seeking fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry all around the subject of food. Alimentum is the only literary journal all about food.

Submissions open September 1, 2009 and closes December 1, 2009. Submit up to 3unpublished poems related to the subject of food or drink. Five-poem limit on poetry submissions. Do not consider previously published work. $15 entry fee which includes a one-year subscription. Snail mail only. First prize $500 and publication for a single poem.
Send to:
Alimentum Poetry Contest
PO Box 210028
Nashville, TN 37221

Deadline: December, 1, 2009

I don't have a food poem, but I'm reminded of Thomas Lux's "Refrigerator, 1957"
which I think is an amazing poem. I'm really tempted to write a poem for Nutella.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Poetry Book Give-Away II: Notes From The Divided Country/ Immortal Sofa

I started reading another Whitman award winner, Suji Kwock Kim this week for my poetry give-away. But sorry people, I'm on page 15 and this is a book I'm going to keep and savor, one of those that specifically talks to you at a moment in your life (I just had a baby, and the first poems of this book talk directly to that experience).

It's a beautiful, soul-wrenching book. Notes from the Divided Country $6 from LSU Press..

So my offering this week is a book of poetry that I reviewed on Hayden Ferry Review's blog from one of our contributors: Immortal Sofa by Maura Stanton.
Warning, it is not a microreview.

Why I think you should spend $2.00 postage on this book:

"God's Ode to Creation," "The Milk of Human Kindness," are great poems.

Here's a sample though of one of my other favorite poems from this collection:

"I close my eyes, trying to conjure the warm
watery planet, sizzling with lightning bolts,
where I darted and turned my somersaults
and then, diving through transparent depths,
inserted myself through the waving seaweed
and came back up, my eye filled with joy."

from "Practicing T'ai Chi Chu'an"

Give this book a new home!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Had to Share

I'm not a huge Ayn Rand fan, although my husband and one of my best friends are. But I can sure see her point. Put a point on the board for Ayn Rand!

I just had an interesting discussion about the children's classic The Giving Tree, which I've always hated (said opinion inevitably getting both me and my mother criticised), and this discussion prompted an online search that uncovered this illustration. Reillustration. Reactionstration. I love it!!

Thanks Objectivist Blog

Anyway, new challenge. Take a children's classic you've always hated (or loved) and rewrite it!! I'm going to do James and the Giant Peach.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Travel Writing

Everybody's got the travel poem, but if you've got an essay, this might be worth looking into:

Unlike guidebooks written by professional travel writers, our
books feature stories written by literary writers -- all of
whom who have lived in the places they write about. Most were
born there, or grew up there, or lived there for many years.
And they didn't write specifically for travelers. They wrote
because they had a good story to tell.

Thanks Funds for Writers!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Poetry Book Give-Away I: Carolina Ghost Woods

Carolina Ghost Woods by Judy Jordan, 1999 Whitman Award Winner.

Rural elegies, a time capsule, a luxury of sounds piling up in long lines for a slow procession of sound and image. Folk wisdom, herbology, a catalogue of biology and dissapearance.

from "Sandbar at Moore's Creek"

"the delft-blue mussel shells,
fingertip tiny, most beautiful when strewn with loss."

My favorite poem: "Walking the Geese Home." Accessable, luscious, sincere.

TAKEN. But you can also get it from LSU for $6.00.

Monday, August 10, 2009


There was a recent discussion on the Wom-po email list about trying to sell your house and having way too many books. A lot of the wompos came to the conclusion that having a house full of books is an awesome way to live. I disagree.

I come from a family of functional horders and I am fighting it. I've taken a good look at my three bookshelves that I've carted across the country already and decided that if I don't love it I'm not keeping it. My new goal is to read one of these books a week, give it a microreview on the blog, and GIVE IT AWAY. If you want it, send me postage and it's yours. Otherwise, it's going to the library.

I encourage others to do the same thing! Poetry should be shared, circulating, percolating, not gathering dust, costing a fortune to move and eating up home equity.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Donner Party Long Poems

When I was in a graduate class on writing the long poem, I decided to challenge myself. I would think of the worst possible sounding idea for a long poem. I came up with the Donner Party. I wrote about 5 pages. I kind of like it.

I've since discovered about 3 book length long poems about the Donner Party and my goal is to read each one. So far I've got my hot little man-hands on one copy:
Keithley, George. The Donner Party. New York: George Braziller, 1972.

So far I've only read the first page or so and I despise it with a deep and loving, laugh out loud, oh my god I was so right this is the worst idea ever hatred.

I've decided to risk life and limb to bring you the first stanza of this book, this marvel of mid-century writing, which since it is but a tiny portion of the poem, perhaps the copyright gods will permit me to post here:

"I am George Donner a dirt farmer
who left the snowy fields
around Springfield, Illinois
in the fullness of my life"

That's all you get--that's all I will risk for you! If you want the rest (it is sort of delicious, this first page) you can get your own copy or maybe if you offer me $5 I will sell you mine. Shipping included.

I've tried to pawn off actually reading it on someone else, but no one I know will take up the gauntlet. 254 pages of Donner Party poetry just doesn't seem to interest anyone. Friends of the Library, here I come. That was some of the best 4$ I ever spent.

Because I also bought an Amazon bargain book, American Primitive by Mary Oliver. That makes this ok. yes!!! I was going to give you guys the link, but I think I bought the only 5$ copy. I don't know if this link to a search will work, but if it does, enjoy your 5$-ish poetry books. Love, Me.

What makes the whole Donner Party poem thing interesting to me is the rejection I just got from Anti-, which goes something like this: we like the concept/concept but the lyrical bit just didn't do it for us. If you've got something similar, send it along.

They liked that it was about the Donner Party, is what I think that means! But obviously my poem didn't pull it off, and with this hefty, gray, funky-smelling volume in front of me that I can't bring myself to read, do I feel implicated. (But my line is longer! Come on!) So when I laugh at this monstrosity, maybe I laugh at my own. Oh Blackbird, publish my long cannibal poem. Please?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Kwame Dawes Apologizes Also

It is good to get an email from Director Kwame Dawes affirming that the publication of the bulk of my chapbook online without my permission was a mistake--done in the middle of launching the new site. I feel better about the Initiative that they did not do this on purpose. He still maintains, though, that it doesn't count as publication (he used quotation marks around the word in his email) and that I should be able to publish them anywhere. He offered to write a letter to any press that wouldn't publish them to that effect, which I think is generous if maybe not right.

I'm curious to see, and waiting to see, if the editors will continue to consider these poems, and if they would have if they were published on purpose and remained up on the website. The Wom-po consensus seems to be yes, this is publication.

I think it's important to clarify for others considering being involved in the site. For some people, this could be a good opportunity even if they relinquish first publication rights required by journals and first publication rights for the collection required by presses. But others might want to know how editors will look upon this website when they are deciding whether or not to allow their poems to be published there.

In any case, this has brought up a few very important questions, for me, that I think the literary community should solve and post in some conspicuous place, like CLMP, with some best practices. Maybe they have. I'll check.

In any case, we should all be on the same page about this. When you send your poems somewhere, you need to know what's going to happen to them.

SC Poetry Initiative Admits Mistake, Promises to Take Down Poems

News: the assistant director of the Poetry Initiative sent me an email at 2:30 pm today saying that a volunteer made the mistake of putting the poems online, and they will be taken down. She apologizes but doesn't think this will harm the chances of this chapbook to be published elsewhere, since, as she correctly points out, it's only 10 of the 14 poems.

I really hope she's right. I've emailed the contests I've entered since last fall to ask that they overlook this brief, renegade publication, or at least consider a different manuscript in its place or refund my entry fee. I don't have enough money for these chapbook contests to have them blown like this.

Fingers crossed.

SC Poetry Initiative Published My Work Without Permission

So here's a quick synopsis:

I entered a chapbook contest from the SC Poetry Initiative. 10 Chapbooks would be chosen for publication, cash prize, and free author's copies. Others would be published online. (There was no notice on the rules that entering meant giving publication permission, and that is not standard either.) It was the first contest I entered this chapbook to, and none of the poems had even been sent to journals yet.

I got a letter saying I didn't win. Boo! I recieved an email from the Iniative saying that my poems had been chosen for online publication. I said, no thanks, I really want to see them in print and this was the first contest. The intern who sent me the email punted to the Assistant Director. I had an exchange with her where she tried to convince me to let them publish three poems, but I refused. She finally acknowledged that I had withdrawn the poems.

Then I got an email this spring asking for an electronic copy. I replied again saying I had already withdrawn the poems. Charlene said, oh yeah, and acknowledged again that I had withdrawn the poems.

Now I get an email with a link to their new site with my poems published in two places: in the '08 Online Chapbooks, where they published my chapbook, and in the '09 Web Anthology, where they published the three poems.

I'm going to my husband's office to make a pdf out of the email exchanges this afternoon, so people can read them for themselves and make their minds up themselves. Also, check out the website for yourself and see if you think it's publication! It doesn't show up on google yet, they just posted it.

I've gotten mixed responses--some people seem to think no harm no foul, others are pretty darn upset. I'd like to know what anybody else thinks.

And if you think it's wrong, let other people know and let the SC Poetry Iniative Director know. He was never in email contact with me, (although I sent him one on publication!) so I do not assign any blame in his direction.

PDF Coming!

Monday, July 20, 2009


I had to post something new. I was recently challenged to write a new chapbook in one month. Day 20, and I have 4 poems. Failure? We'll see.

Anyway, one of the ideas I had for knocking out this ridiculous number of poems was to do pop haiku. I love the mix of the static, the contemplative, the classic form with the hectic, frenetic, undeliberated, the unending flow of pop life. Maybe the haiku can do something for Pop.

But I suck at haiku! So you try it. Here's a contest if you're interested in doing on about a Nintendo game:

Monday, June 1, 2009


This Week They Killed Your Best Friend in a Church While He Prayed, Although Many Could Save Your Life He Was The Only One that Would

Now is the time
when they are deciding
who will decide
who owns your body.
If you are not a man or a child or a virgin
you are a cruise ship, or your body
is a cruise ship and you
are the captain and if
the ship goes down
so will you.

They decide
if tiny people can kill you.
You might have thought, oh yay, finally,
my tiny person is coming
only to discover they will
brutalize you.
The undertaker will have to stuff you
so you won't look caved in for your casket

though you don't have to die, you could maybe
keep your body a little longer--

your body, whose job
you thought it was
to keep you alive
and take you to work
this body which is all
you know has been lying to you.
It is not yours. It never was.
It is somebody else's, or could be
just like that. And whether that person
is alive, or will be for long your body,
your long lost first love or your hated enemy,
your spare tire, your jiggly thighs,
your pert nipples, they are
a life-support machine. Your blood,
your liver, your heart, your lungs--
they are a boat on a river.
To keep it all afloat they
will make cuts in you, they
will tear you open
like a cheap envelope.
Maybe they will put you back together,
but the final piece
death will keep for herself,
that bitch, she has owned you
all along
and your body, which would so like
to be beautiful and to create beauty,
will be an empty, sad thing,

and you will have nothing
but your luscious, meaty anger--

Dr. Tiller Murdered the Week Pro-Choice Supreme Court Judge nominated.

Monday, May 25, 2009

More Good News

A few more upcoming publications to announce:

"Rupture," The Greensboro Review
"Garden Wall, Response to Picasso," Makeout Creek
"Sugar Bust," Southern Women's Review

Also, I've begun reviewing poetry books and chapbooks for Hayden's Ferry Review Blog. Check them out!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Western Michigan Poets POP

I recently started reviewing books and chapbooks for the HFR blog, one done so far and several to go! As I was reading Roy Seeger's chapbook, A Garden of Improbable Birds, I was struck by how much I enjoyed his poems featuring John Travolta and Lon Cheney. These were not comic poems, the pop icons were translated into symbols in the poems that really opened up something for the speaker. It was pretty cool. I had recently run into another Kalamazoo guy at AWP, Cody Todd, who also has a chapbook out, To Frankenstein, My Father. And another fellow Western Michigan Prague Summer Program attendee, was featured in HFR #42 for a poem entitled, "Gorbechev's Houseboat."

Maybe that's not a very significant trend, but I've got my eye on these guys.

So my question is, what is useful about pop icons? Dracula, Chocula, Lou Ferrigno, Billy Joel, Tanya Harding, Kelly Clarkson, Miley (sigh for contributing in any way to the continuation of her name in the metasphere) Cyrus? The fact that they are popular, even hugely popular, I think says that people connect to them. They see something of themselves in these people or their personas. And then they just become huge off the two mirrors held facing each other refractivity of fame. But in any case, just like other cultural icons, they say something larger than a moment in time, but anchored in a moment in time. And that can become something very personal for an individual, these larger narratives.

Ah, my Kelly Clarkson poem is calling me...

Thursday, March 19, 2009


I'm back from AWP and then a short baby hiatus! The little guy is napping on his Boppy on my lap, so I'm going to catch up with some notes I made at AWP.

I ran into an old friend at the book fair, Alex Lumans, graduating soon from his MFA program. When we were in an undergrad poetry class together, he wrote a cool poem using the word portmanteau, which I'd never encountered before. It's actually a pretty common occurrance, a portmanteau is two words smushed together to make a new one that has some of the old meaning of the two words combined. Think Bennifer or Brangelina but with more linguistic substance.

Here's a cool site with a bunch of examples:

I'm especially intriqued by the Dormobile. I was disapointed to find out that this is a type of car/truck/van, not a mobile dorm, which would suck so bad that I love the idea. Would you have to find it every day when you come home from class? Imagine the dialogue..."oh shit, I'm going to be late to class because the dorm parked on the far side of campus this morning."

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Thanks Slipstream!

Happily, I came back from AWP to a PO Box full of rejection slips, my new Indiana Review (yes!), and an acceptance from Slipstream for my poem, "Women Like Me," appearing in issue #29, Spring 2009.

To order, visit:

It's a pretty classic definitional list poem: x=y, x=c, x=q. For example:

Blue birds are blue birds.
Blue birds are birds that think they are the sky.
Blue birds are feathers glued onto bone by a child
who wants to shoot the sky with his bb gun.
Blue birds are hot blue formica tiles cut up and soldered
into something resembling flight intersecting black tarmac.
Blue birds shit and fight and chase off gold finches.

What I like about the formula is that the farther along you go, the more interesting your definitions get as you come up with new insights, new language, new things to say. I think I'm going to do this thing again, for real though, not for blue birds, and this time list definitions for 'grotesque' in thanks to the last issue of Hayden's Ferry Review that I was editor for. Thanks everyone who came up to the HFR table at AWP with love for the issue. The HFR blog also has links to a very good review of the issue by The Review Review.

Friday, February 6, 2009

My Horn

I want to take a second to suggest to everyone that they send some work out. Since I've had some time off from working, I've been on a major rampage submitting to journals and book contests. This has led to a lot of rejection, and I'm happy to share with you, some success!

Thanks to Cider Press Review, Puerto del Sol, and Gulf Coast , and Pebble Lake Review for my recent acceptances.

Thanks also to the Cider Press Review Book Award for naming my manuscript, Mystery School, a finalist in their 2008 Book Prize.

To read the poems, here's a link to the magazines. Look for "Trojan Horse," in Spring 2009. Look for "Love Poem," and "Museum," in Volume 10, Spring 2009. Look for "Apocalypse," in Fall 2009. for "Pescadita," in the Health and Illness issue due out in May.

Be Mine, Valentine

I'm not generally a huge fan of occasional poems, but I had fun with the Diwali poem I wrote for the HFR Blog Contest a while back, and speaking of keeping track of time and the passage of time, occasional and seasonal poems are pretty useful.

I'm going on blog hiatus while I'm at AWP and visiting my in-laws, so I'll miss Valentine's Day. You would think that Valentine's would be too super cheesy to even approach. I disagree! Wikipedia has some crazy interesting stuff, history of Valentine's and connected customs, including a gallery of beautiful vintage valentines. There's plenty of opportunity for dramatic poems, narrative poems, poems taking an interesting obscure fact or custom as a jumping off point, or ekphrastic poems using the cards. I'm especially interested in the ones that look like vintage tattoos.

And that's not even getting into the personal/lyric poems that could come of out comparing these wiki-facts with contemporary events or personal events. Valentine to Blago? Valentine from the baby leopard to his piglet pal (look it up on Youtube!)? Valentine to a relative, maybe an in-law?

Whatever your Valentine Poem may be, have fun.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Calendar and Domestic Poetry

I have a pretty big deadline coming in up in less than two months, and to honor it, I've begun a new poetry project! Finally. It helps me a little bit to think of the shape and content and big ideas in the project when I'm thinking about new poems to write.

In this one I want to pursue a couple of ideas 1. Time and 2. The Domestic.

That's pretty much my life right now, and whereas for the past few months I haven't been thrilled about it, I've finally come around that bend in the country road where everything illuminates and you realize you're in the right place.

So my next blogs will focus on ways/forms to help shape and show the passage of time, and forms that duplicate the domestic.

Project the First: Rag Rug.

I'm totally in love with the rag rug I've been making for my second spare room.The rag rug is an old-timey thing they still make a L.L. Bean, we had one in our family room growing up. It's made out of long strips of fabric crocheted together around and around. The one I've been making is pink, green, yellow and raspberry, totally cute. For more info, if you want to try one:

So for my rag rug poem, I was thinking about taking lines out of a journal or something, or maybe a paragraph and cutting it into lines, and then wrapping them and tying them together, around and around, until they form the whole. I'm debating too getting the "fabric" from non-literary sources, like taking snippets from books that I find and interesting "color" and using them to make the rag rug, like my Grim Fairie Tale collection, Lives of the Saints, and The Great Transformation by Karen Armstrong.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Getting to Know You: Back Issues

In most writing classrooms as well as on most rejection slips, you'll get a suggestion from teachers and editors that you read a literary journal before submitting to it (or read any literary journal before submitting to another one) in order to get an idea of what they might like.

There are a few problems with this advice. 1)Time: Many working poets find they don't have the time to read EVERY journal they'd like to submit to. OR 2)Money: They might skim over them at the AWP bookfair, look into their wallets, and sigh. There just isn't enough money, or usually a well-enough stocked library nearby for poets (or writers) to read every journal they'd like to. $20 bucks a pop doesn't get you very far on what most people have to spend. I know my subscription/ conference registration/ contest entry fee money comes out of a small grant I was lucky to get and have just about used up :(

Which is why I've spent a little bit of time lately going over journals I've read in the past or recently submitted to, looking to see who has affordable back issues/ sample issues. Some back issues are rare and thus legitimately expensive. But if most journals are anything like Hayden's Ferry Review, there's a room somewhere full of back issues that the magazine can't afford to store anymore, would give away free if they could. Maybe the editor ordered about 200 more than needed from the printer, the cover art wasn't so great, the issue came out during the Arab Oil Embargo of '74 and people just weren't buying journals like predicted. Thus the sample issue, as in "I've got 200 copies of issue #20, pay for the shipping and it's yours." And some magazines just don't charge that much, period.

Here's a list of links to back issues pages of literary journals that sell for less than $10 a piece. Although some of these might still be more than half of a current subscription (and some aren't), it's enough to get a taste of what the magazine's about and then decide which ones you want to add to your Christmas list.

Hayden's Ferry Review $7.50

American Poetry Review $4.25

Copper Nickel (issue 5) $8

Crab Creek Review $6

Cream City Review $7

Gulf Coast $8
I suggest issue 20.2 featuring my dear friend and Pushcart nominated writer, Aimee Baker.

Mid-American Review $5

New England Review $6

New York Quarterly $8

Slipstream (some issues $7)

Cimarron Review (some issues $5)

Fugue $8

The Gettysburg Review $6

There might be more! Check out your favorite lit mag, and if it's got a good sample issue rate, let me know.