I've been AWOL from the desk of the kangaroo as the semester hits light speed. We had a big meeting Monday morning for a committee working on an NEH grant. I'm thankful to be working with a great group of folks and I'm thankful that this one isn't my baby. It's huge! Half of my students are in the midst of turning in research papers (due by midnight tonight), and the other half (the comp students) will be turning in their final papers in another week or so. I'm using Thanksgiving to gird my loins for the onslaught of comma splices and fragments, but also to build up some energy to celebrate the great papers as well.
While I've been swamped with grant-writing, quiz-grading, and paper-collecting, some good news has arrived from the poetry world.
|Mossy rock near Heber Spring, AR (my photo)|
1. I received a grant from the Sally A. Williams Artist Fund at the Arkansas Arts Council to help defray costs for AWP. It won't cover the whole amount, but it will help out in a major way, as I have no funding from PTC this year. I met Sally when I was awarded an Individual Artist Fellowship in 2007, and I know the Arts Council lost a true gift when Sally passed away a few years ago. Her family and friends used part of her estate to create this wonderful opportunity, and I'm more than thankful to have qualified this year.
2. Six weeks ago or so, Jeremy Schraffenberger, one of the editors of North American Review emailed me about some poems of mine he'd read in another publication. He inquired about my sending on anything new I might be working on. Through this exchange, two exciting things happened. First, NAR accepted "Having Been Outside the Body," the first of my sickly speaker poems to find a home. And second, in our email exchange, I let Jeremy know that I was from Waterloo, IA, the twin city of Cedar Falls, IA, where NAR is housed at the University of Northern Iowa. In the end, the gracious folks at UNI invited me to do a reading on campus in March, and I am thrilled to do so.
As most of you may know NAR is AWESOME, but it is also the oldest literary magazine in the US, founded in Boston in 1815. Wow. I just lost my mind for a minute there. I was totally oblivious to this great treasure while I grew up within a stone's throw of its home. When I learned about it years later, you can bet I was kicking myself.
All of this proves that getting the work out there (and doing the hard work of drafting & revision first) matters. That there are other people out there reading the work and that magical connections can happen this way. I have no fancy connections to the movers and shakers of the po-biz world, and in this case, it didn't matter. The work mattered. Yay for poetry and yay for poets & editors!
3. This week, George David Clark, who has taken over as Poetry Editor at 32 Poems, as John Poch passes the torch, accepted "The Ashes of My Familiar," the second of the sickly speaker poems. This is super exciting since these poems are a departure from my old familiar Midwest poems and super exciting because I love 32 Poems with a mad passion.
In the way of explaining po-biz for any emerging writers out there, I first worked with GDC when we was a grad student and poetry editor of Meridian, another favorite journal of mine, and he accepted a poem of mine. GDC and I have crossed paths since then at AWP and we've kept track of each other and our work.
4. Finally, yesterday, Susan Slaviero, who is doing amazing things at blossombones, an online journal that features work about the female experience (although not limited to female writers as far as I understand), took "The Contents of Our Tales," the opening poem in my series of Midwest fairy tales. Again, I'm thrilled by this. In part I'm thrilled because the fairy tales have not soared out into the world in the way I imagined they might. Several people mentioned there being a kind of blacklist against fairy tale poems and I guess I've seen some of that, or maybe, not all of the poems are as strong as they need to be. I'll be checking to see if more revision is in order before sending them on their way again.
**I am not naming these editors for the sake of name-dropping. Let's face it, this is the poetry world. Nobody outside our circles knows or cares who these people are. I'm naming names because the whole thing seemed such a mystery to me when I started submitting work and I had to forge my own way through this mystery. I want this blog to offer a bit of light for those beginning writers who still feel in the dark about how it all works. Also, I'm naming these people because editors are often left out of the "let's celebrate this publication of mine" moment and without them, without their reading and reading and reading through the piles of submissions, the publication wouldn't happen at all!
***Keeping it real, I also recorded several rejections over the last few weeks, just to keep the old ego in check!