Tuesday, May 26, 2009


The return to the world of writing begins. Thanks to a good writing friend who agreed to exchange some prompts/assignments with me on Sunday, ideas, images, and words started coalescing in my brain. This morning I was driven from bed a half hour early as the next few lines to something I'd started the night before sprang into my head.

Then, a long day involving lots of errands and then sanding and priming (interior) to prepare for more painting tomorrow. Now, my body is tired, but once again, without willing it, my brain had been mulling over the new poem and I had to sit down and work on it some more.

After a long period of not writing, it is reassuring to feel the wheels turning once more.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

More Good News

Last night I received another "good news" email, this time from Copper Nickel. Jake Adam York and Anisetta Valdez, poetry editors, wrote to accept all four of the poems I had submitted. Previous readers will know that I greatly admire this journal and the people who work on it, so it was truly humbling to find out that they had taken the entire submission.

By some wonderful twist of fate, my last three acceptances have been for entire submission packets (or what was left after withdrawing a poem). Typically, I have placed one poem at a time, and when someone has taken two, I've been through the roof. Two years ago, Crab Orchard took three and I nearly floated away from delight. Now, after a particularly rough spring, filled with doubting, to receive this bounty of confidence boosting news is such a gift. Many thanks to all the tireless editors and readers at all the journals out there who provide that vital link between writer and audience.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Good News While Traveling

While I was out of town this weekend, I received a "good news" email from J. P. Dancing Bear of the American Poetry Journal. He took three poems for a future issue! One of these poems has been around the block a few times and underwent a serious revision before this last round of submissions. I've always believed in the poem, but it took a seriously long time (two years) to find its true form. It really is gratifying to see the work pay off.

Many thanks to J. P. Dancing Bear and the other fine people over at APJ!

Happily, happily, I'm running low on poems that are submission ready and I'm eager to get to work on the new drift of drafts.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Poetry Timeout

Yes, this blog is meant for Poetry, but sometimes Baseball interrupts.

It happens every year. At some point, the ivy at Wrigley greens into full-blown Spring and I miss it. Ryan Theriot just hit a double off the wall and I did my yearly double-take. When did that happen? Just proves how mind-consuming the end of the semester becomes.

On a happy note, I turned in my last set of grades at 11:00 this morning. After some family business this weekend, I'm back on track with my writing time. I can feel the poems building.

Until then...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Budy poem on Verse Daily

Check out Andrea Hollander Budy's poem on today's Verse Daily. I love the first line: "Her voice has too much jewelry in it."


Saturday, May 9, 2009

No Poems, Just this Dream Fragment

Driving down a two-lane highway in the country in the rain, everything lush and green, I realized I was going the wrong way and needed to turn around. I turned left into a rough driveway and saw a gray horse ahead. Not wanting to scare it, I stopped and began backing up to turn around. The horse suddenly surged forward, thundered onto the hood of my car, (a sound I can still hear) and launched itself into the passenger seat through the windshield, where the glass had mysteriously disappeared. Flailing hooves and the knowledge that the horse was definitely angry and threatening forced me awake.

Saturday, May 2, 2009


I'd let the rejections pile up on the desk over the last few weeks, so today I recorded everything and in the process did some good revision work (the usual outcome of rejections). Revising individual poems led me to revising Glacial Elegies. All of my fall book submission have come back negative, but I had come to expect that. The manuscript I sent out in the spring and continue to work on now is a tighter version of what I sent in the fall. I imagine it will tighten up even more before the next round as well. I don't seem to be able to stop tinkering (and couldn't with the first book either).

As I was revising, I got nervous about the number of poems in the manuscript that are written in couplets. I really can't explain where the nerves came from, or why I zeroed in on the couplets, but I did. I do remember Jim Whitehead once pointing out that all of my poems at the time were written in columns of three- or four-beat lines. This lack of range displeased Jim, and I've been overly conscious of relying on one formal structure too much ever since then, I guess. However, I know many poets who spend their entire careers writing within a certain formal frame. If the poems are written well should it matter? Do you worry about getting stuck in a rut?

So, this being baseball season (go Cubs!), I turned to the numbers. Currently, there are 54 poems in Glacial Elegies. Here's the form & theory breakdown:

Single stanza: 5
Couplets: 12
Tercets: 8
Quatrains: 5
Regular stanzas of other lengths: 3
Sonnet-like: 4
Triolets: 2
Regular pattern (i.e. couplet, tercet, couplet, etc.): 8
Varied lines & stanzas: 7

If this provides any deep insights to anyone, please let me know.