Saturday, January 4, 2014

Angry Sisters Make Their Debut & Some Miscellany

36º ~ thin gray cloud-cover, temps trying to rise to 50º ahead of the Arctic blast that will send us to near 10º tomorrow night (might not seem cold to those above the snowline, but remember, it's similar to your dips below zero)

The angry sisters have made their poetic debut! I have two poems out in the new Arsenic Lobster, a journal I've long admired. "Penance Assigned to the Adulterers" is from the very beginning of the angry sisters series, so they don't actually make a named appearance. "The Angry Sisters Experience a Conversion" is from the beginning of their story. I can't place the draft notes for the former, but the latter post is here.

I hope you'll read the whole issue, as it is chock full of wonderful and amazing poems.

With this publication, while I have a few accepted poems still waiting to make it to print or online publication, I have zero poems out for consideration. ZERO. This has not been the case for me since sometime around the turn of the century. And while I don't condone the making of resolutions for I have a tendency to perfectionism and can beat myself up quite badly for failing..., I do see the need to get back in the swing of things. Roughly half of the sickly speaker manuscript remains unpublished in journals, and I have a good half dozen more angry sisters poems that could be sent out.

So here are my two goals for the spring semester:
1. To make submissions a part of my weekly routine again.
2. To make drafting a part of my weekly routine again, being open to whatever subject matter may be coming next.

That being said, I foresee this blog becoming a weekly item as well.  There is simply too much to do in too little time. I've already shifted my reading responses to Facebook. My "What I'm Reading" posts have been a great delight to me, and I've seen them as part of my duty as a poet, sharing the work of others. However, having taken on teaching at the graduate level, on top of my community college, full-time gig and working on Heron Tree, something's gotta give, as they say. So, I've started a series of "mini reading logs" on FB. There, I try to summarize a book of poems in 1-3 sentences and provide a brief excerpt. In this way, I retain a list of what I've read an my reactions (albeit a bit less stable and less searchable than on the blog platform), and I'm still sharing the work of other poets.

Also coming up in the next few months will be all things The Girlhood Book of Prairie Myths, including a long weekend of readings in North Carolina with Jacar Press, a Little Rock launch of the book, and AWP (no reading scheduled, but I'll have copies for sale out of my backpack, no worries).

As for Heron Tree, we've been on a hiatus from posting new poems each week, but we will return late Sunday night (1/5). We are in the midst of reading our fall 2013 submissions, and I'm reminded again of how much I have to learn as an editor and how much being an editor informs my view of the poetry world. Time and time again, pre-Heron Tree, I read comments from editors in articles and interviews. Every time, editors proclaimed that they really did read the submissions with great anticipation of finding publishable material there; every time editors talked about submissions from poets who clearly hadn't read the journal and figured out its aesthetic; every time editors talked about sloppy work being submitted, containing typos and grammar errors that got in the way of accepting the work. And, every time I read these comments, I wasn't quite sure I could believe them. I knew I should believe them, but without the experience, I wasn't 100% there. Now, I am.

We read blind (which I highly recommend to all editors) and break our reading up into "packets" of anywhere from 10 - 20 poets at a time (each poet assigned a number, and each poem numbered sequentially from there: 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 2.1, 2.2, etc.). As I open each packet, I begin to read with nothing less than joyful anticipation. After going through one whole submission cycle last year, and being about half way through our submissions this year, I now know the feel of a Heron Tree poem. The Heron Tree poem combines the tastes of all three editors, as we must reach a unanimous decision for publication. I try to read every poem in the packet with clear and accepting eyes. I want to find poems to publish. I do! However, I now see how easy it is to tell within a line or two, or after the first stanza, if something is really, really not right for us. This cuts down on reading time, but it also lets the air out of my joyful anticipation. Lest I be too hasty in my decision, I've got my two co-editors, the publishers of Heron Tree, to catch a poem that might slip through my fingers. In this way, I believe we are careful, attentive readers, giving each poem a chance to make us say "YES!"

All of this is to say, trust it when editors make comments as I outlined above. They aren't just saying these things to fill space. If you want to publish poems in a certain journal, follow the age-old advice: read the journal to be sure your work fits, revise & revise & revise, proof & proof & proof, and send only your best work, being careful to abide by the guidelines.

I report back to work on Monday. The graduate workshop I'm leading starts online on Wednesday, and my PTC classes begin on the 13th. Here's hoping for a calm and productive semester for us all!


Kathleen said...

Sounds like a great plan and a great start to the new year. Love your editing comments.

Sandy Longhorn said...

Thanks, Kathleen! Happy 2014 to you and yours.

Michelle said...

When you say you are going to be in North Carolina this spring, does that mean I will have the pleasure of seeing you?!?! We have a brand new locally owned bookstore/wine bar in Greensboro that opened last week; might you arrange a reading there? I'm excited at the prospect of seeing you!

Sandy Longhorn said...


Yes!!!! Plans are still being made, but it looks like Tate Street Coffeehouse on Saturday, Feb. 15th. I will be in touch soon, soon, soon.


Michelle said...

Oh my goodness! I've put it on my calendar! You are most welcome to stay with us (if you can endure the noise of four little boys . . . ). I can't wait!

Sandy Longhorn said...

Michelle, YAY! I'll be in touch with details soon, and I can't wait to meet the boys, FINALLY!!! (yes, I'm shouting here!)