Sunday, October 28, 2012

Weekly Updates: Predicting the Storm, Hosting Padma Viswanathn, Fellowship Applications, and Reading Submissions

59º ~ a near perfect fall weekend, alas marred by another Razorback loss in War Memorial Stadium (the world is surely turning upside down)

Over the last few days, as with most of the nation, we here at the desk of the Kangaroo have been following the path of Hurricane Sandy and anticipating her merger with the two winter storms over the northeast.  All jokes of my name aside, I'm hoping everyone out east is prepared for the worst even as I'm hoping y'all see the least.


My week of poetry was upended a bit by some work related business and the fact that the Big Rock Reading Series hosted Padma Viswanathan on Thursday night.  Because I'm a bit of an energy wimp, I've learned that I need to sleep in on the morning of the readings (on days when I don't teach), so that I can be "on" that evening.  While this means losing poetry time, it makes life much more bearable for the day after a reading. 

I'm thrilled to report that we had another wonderful evening.  Padma read two stories, "Transitory Cities" and "The Barber Lover," which is an excerpt from her novel The Toss of a Lemon.  We had an audience of 75 people, again with about an 80%/20% split of PTC folks and members of the community.  Based on both the verbal comments after the reading and the written comments on the survey, the audience connected with the stories and with Padma and folks were grateful for her appearance.  If you ever get the chance to hear her read, I highly encourage it!


This morning, I caught up on the loose ends cluttering my desk and was reminded of a fellowship deadline that is right around the corner.  When I began working on it, I thought I'd just take care of one or two bits of the whole and then finish the rest this week, but something overtook me and I spent three hours at the computer, eventually hitting "submit" for the whole thing.  Asking for money is always hard for me, as I know it is for others, but I have to remind myself that the work we do as writers is valuable yet undervalued.  Fellowships are a chance to make up that imbalance.  So, I did my best, tried to be as open and clear about my needs and off it went. 

The good thing is that by the time they make the announcement, I'll have forgotten that I sent it in, which always helps deaden the disappointment.  Of course, like most poets in America, I'm waiting to hear from the NEA...that one fellowship I'm never capable of forgetting for long.  (If anyone has already received word, please put me out of my misery!)


Finally, I wanted to say a few words about Heron Tree.  Many thanks to all of you who have sent encouraging notes about this new poetry journal.  I'm thrilled to be co-editing it with two dear friends.  I know many of you have submitted, and we are grateful for that!  *For those of you who have already submitted, we are notifying as we go.  We appreciate everyone's patience!

As we set out on the journey, my co-editors and I talked a lot about how we wanted the process of selecting poems to work and about being open to revising that process if we needed to.  We decided to attempt to read the poems blind, and so far that is working.  I confess, it takes the pressure off if/when I'm reading poems submitted by a poet-friend. 

One of the techniques we have developed along the way is the "pause list." As we read our packets independently of each other, we note down the ID number of any poem that makes us pause, any poem that we might even barely consider publishing.  These numbers get sent in emails that the others don't open until they've sent their pause list.  Then, when we have our editorial meetings, we only talk about those poems with pauses, even if the poem only received one pause note.  This helps because before the editorial meeting, we can each read through the poems noted in the list and really focus on just those poems, preparing our yay or nay or maybe votes.

I have to say that accepting poems is a huge rush.  When we arrive at that YES, I get a bit giddy and let out a little 'wahoo.'

As this has all unfolded, I'm grateful that I'm working with two other people who are sharp readers of poetry and good friends.  They keep me on my toes and ensure that I don't become so carried away with the beautiful language or images of a poem that I fail to check for a solid foundation underneath.  They remind me that in a joint effort we are working on a collaborative aesthetic.  This is not MY journal, and I think I know now that I wouldn't want to be an editor of one...too much pressure.


This next week looks a bit more conducive to poetry making, although the material needing to be graded floats there, ever at the surface, ever renewing itself.  At least this week there will be Halloween candy to carry me through!


John Vanderslice said...

You're a very conscientious editor, Sandy. That warms my heart!

Sandy Longhorn said...

Aw, thanks, John!

Kathleen said...

I love reading about your editorial process, just as I love reading about your composing process.

Likewise on energy stuff, and the drain of certain events. I used to have boundless energy--now must conserve it, direct it...!

Congrats on poem in November Thrush!

Sandy Longhorn said...

Thanks, Kathleen! Your support buoys me and my flagging energy.

Yes, must remember to conserve and direct. Thanks for that.