12 May 2021

A Personal Day.

I decided to take a personal day today--middle of the week, end of the year, for no real reason. I am still dealing with a bum knee, so my original thought was to go out to the coast and walk on the sand or shop a bit, but I don't think my knee can go like that yet. (I ended up with bursitis in late March, from working in the garden.) 

However, I did go to the post office, and I walked through Goodwill for the first time in at least a year, and I looked at flowers at Lowe's for a short bit. My knee started aching a little, but no twisting or clicking or threatening to give out. I didn't push it, and I'm on the couch for the rest of the day. 

At Goodwill, I found a great little Mexican terracotta bird, and a small turquoise, three-bowl dish that I plan to use for holding earrings/safety pins in the bathroom. OH! And I found a really great pair of 18" tall Christmas trees made out of mother of pearl. I usually pass up holiday decor in summer, but these were 4.00 each, and really striking, and I'm always looking for more shelf-filling decor for the winter holidays.

The garden plans for this year have been hijacked by this knee injury, though--I'd planned on expanding the back yard flower beds, and planting a fruit tree, but it's not happening now. I did get one long new bed added, and I put in two blueberry bushes and transplanted some lupines there. I have a lilac bush I'd still like to plant, but it's going to have to wait until June or July, because that knee is not ready to for heavy digging or tearing up more lawn right now. This fall, I will definitely be adding a fruit tree, and hopefully a few grapevines, too.

My raised beds in the front yard are already filled with veggie starts, and I bought some sweet basil and marigolds to add there. I am still getting a few spears of asparagus every week, the strawberries are in heavy blossom, and my sugar snap peas are getting tall. Everything is growing as fast as it can, and I've already been watering for weeks now. It was a warm, dry spring.

Anyhow. I was still up early this morning, as usual, and I sent a ton of poems out into the world. I sent work to SHiFT: A Journal of Literary Oddities, to juked, and to The MacGuffin. I also sent submissions to The Ilanot Review and Poetry South. I actually had a poem published by juked while I was working on my MFA at Chatham. So, my submission total is back up to 60--sixty presses are considering either a small selection of poems or the full-length manuscript. 

According to Duotrope, I have sent out 594 poems in the last 12 months.

07 May 2021

Community of Writers Summer Poetry Workshop!

Well, it's been a while since I've written a blog post--it's been a bit of a busy term, and grading has taken up a good bit of my time in the last two weeks. 

The biggest, best news is that I was accepted to the Community of Writers Summer Poetry Workshop! Applicants are picked by writing sample, and I am delighted to have made the cut. I will spend a full seven days working with six incredible poets, including Susan Olds, who is one of my all-time favorite poets. I look forward to this opportunity, and while I'm a bit nervous, I'm excited, too. 

I am using professional development funding to attend--the tuition is 900.00, and it's a big help to have that taken care of.

I looked back over my recent blog posts--I can't believe that I didn't mention applying to the workshop! I was worried they would be overrun with applications because this summer's workshop is virtual. For writers on a budget, it removes a week's worth of food and lodging in Lake Tahoe, plus the airfare and pet sitting. (Really--with five cats, pet sitting is a significant expense when travelling. And right now, I'm between sitters.)

On the submission front, things have not been as rosy; holy crap--I think I've received ten rejection letters over the last week. It's like everyone is clearing their desks off. Now that I type that, I realize that schools on semesters are closing up for the summer break--so it's quite likely that my rejection slips are coming from that last minute drive to whittle down the stack of submissions before heading into the summer months. Regardless, it stings a little when they come at me in quick succession. I have, honestly, been aiming a little higher with my choices of journals, so it's also likely part of the reason.

While I'm still clawing my way to getting caught up on grading, I sent out some poetry this morning, so that I'm keeping things in rotation. I'm still trying to send to journals that are a bit more exclusive in their selections . . . I've sent to 32 Poems, Agni, and RHINO this morning. I'm hoping to get a few more packets sent out today, too. The rejections have freed up a good bit of work.

17 April 2021

My poem "Domesticity" finds a home at Plainsongs Poetry Magazine.

This past work week is ending on a bit of a grumpy note--I had a migraine for most of Thursday, and it's back today. My knee is still healing, so the house is a wreck, and every weed in the yard is growing on an accelerated schedule due to this warm, dry spell we've had. I have a half-dozen proposals to grade this weekend, but otherwise I'm grateful to be caught up. I plan to rest my eyes for a while this afternoon.

Yesterday, I received an acceptance from Plainsongs Poetry Magazine out of Hastings, Nebraska . . . they are going to publish my poem "Domesticity" in their summer issue. This is a recent overhaul of a poem I wrote while working on my MFA at Chatham University in 2005. 

At the time, I was living in Carnegie, PA, and my husband was working as a restaurant chef in Squirrel Hill. We were making it work while he commuted and spent long hours in a new restaurant kitchen, and I commuted 45 minutes in one direction to teach full time, then returned home to commute across downtown Pittsburgh to graduate school classes. (Did I mention that I teach writing? All spare time was grading--always grading--student essays.) We were both busy and exhausted, and I wrote a lot of poems about what being a wife meant, and what being in a marriage meant. Obviously, two divorces later, I am not a professional when it comes to either. 

Looking back at work that's 15 years old is shocking to the system in some ways, but I've also found that my age and experiences since that time inform my older work in new ways. In one view, "Domesticity" is a brand new poem, because the point of view has shifted and softened. The tone has evolved. I don't think my poetry is as angry in some ways as it once was. 

Ultimately, I am glad this piece resonated with the editors and found its home. It validates that the revision set the poem on the right track, after all these years.

I've also sent out work to Slipstream this morning--they have a call out for a themed issue on SEX/FOOD/DEATH. I found a few sex poems and a few death poems to pull together a submission, as I'm trying to consider themed issues more frequently. I also sent a selection of five poems to Colorado Review this morning. I am also trying "bigger name" presses mixed in with the micro-presses. It is likely a shot in the dark, but I think the submission is quite good, if I do say so myself. : )

Plainsongs Poetry Magazine

15 April 2021

A rejection, but with a healthy dose of encouragement.

I was just speaking with my mom last week about migraines, and how I don't get them as frequently. I woke up this morning to a nasty migraine that is stubbornly hanging on, despite a few different medication attempts. I have about 45 minutes left in my Zoom office hours for the morning, and then I think I'm going to take some sick time for the rest of the day.

I know it's been about two weeks since I've last posted, but getting my manuscript out to those first book prizes was exhausting, and I've not been generating new work in the last month. I have work out--both manuscripts and small sets of poems--at 60 presses right now, so I'm just taking some time to rest. 

I have received a few rejection letters in the last two weeks, which is usually not something to crow about, but I received a really encouraging rejection email from Pokrbelly Press's Sugared Water. They had five poems of mine for almost six months, and they ended their otherwise standard form rejection with this:

While this particular work was not right for us, we were intrigued by what you're crafting, and would like to see more. Please consider submitting to us in the future.

To be honest, my newer work is a lot weirder than my poetry usually is. It is full-on crone poetry: full of dark fairy tale imagery and ghosts and gardening and being swept out to sea. Porkbelly Press is small--but I think of it as edgy and cool. It's the kind of place I don't often submit, because I tend to think I'm not pushing the boundaries of edgy OR cool. 

Despite their editors' decision to pass on the work I sent, I am immensely encouraged, and I will submit to them again in the future. I think the five poems they read were a bit of a mixed bag, and I look forward to curating another, stronger submission for them in the near future.

On the book front, my chapbook manuscript is still under consideration after being submitted during American Poetry Journal's fall reading period, and my full-length manuscript is still being held with submissions to BOA Edition's A. Poulin, Jr. Award. Those are the last two fall book submissions, and from what I can tell via Duotrope, those two contests haven't sent any rejection slips yet. I believe BOA announces in May. 

I will be waiting for results of the spring first book awards for quite a while, but my submissions at Ghost Peach Press/Birdcoat Quarterly, Trio House Press, and Elixir Press have all moved to "In-Progress" at Submittable. The deadlines for Ghost Peach and Trio House are April 30/May 1, so they're already reading the submissions they've received--Elixir's deadline was March 31.

29 March 2021

More "first book award" submissions on the last day of Spring Break, and starting big projects at the last minute.

Well, an artist friend shared a publishing resource over the weekend that details an exhaustive list of book awards for poetry. I am reluctant to share it here, because the creator has intended it to assist women and non-binary writers who do not have the time or access to research this level of information themselves. And, while I certainly am aware of some of the opportunities she has included, there are many presses (and several first book awards) that were not on my radar. I am appreciative for the assistance that this resource has provided for me, and if you want more information, feel free to email me. 

Through this resource, and from my own list, I was able to submit to seven first book contests over Spring Break, and I sent a sample of work to an eighth publisher, Acre Books. I am exhausted, but very excited that I had a little bit of money set aside from tax returns to cover the cost of submissions.

My manuscript Faster Than Hares and Rabbits is now under consideration at the following additional presses: 

Birdcoat Quarterly's 2021 Book Contest

Tupelo Press's Berkshire Prize for First or Second Book

Trio House Press's Trio Award for First or Second Book

Switchback Books's Gatewood Prize

I hope that some of the smaller/less publicized awards may provide a greater opportunity for success; I am confident that my manuscript is strong, but it's difficult to put oneself out there. 

There are a few other presses that have open reading periods this summer, and Milkweed Editions and BkMk Press have reading periods coming up, too, so I will probably wait until the end of April and submit to 3-4 more opportunities, as well. 

Spring term begins this morning, but I started to paint the living room ceiling yesterday. LOL--I'm hoping to get the whole living room done this week or next, so that I can rehang the art and start planning my next project. 

I have blueberry bushes and a lilac to plant, and several perennials to transplant, so that should happen this week, ASAP.  The back yard beds are going to be expanded 2-3 times the size they are now, if only from making space for the transplanted lupines. Grass is already high, and it's going to be 75 on Wednesday, so I think I'll be in the yard for a good chunk of the day. 

I've also decided to start a new perennial from seed--I picked milkweed, which can take up to three years to mature and bloom. Like the lupines, they will pay off eventually. (I've also tried to start poppies and echinacea from seed, and neither one made it through the first winter.) I also bought seeds for foxglove and cleomes (which i LOVE), but they should mature and bloom this year. I'm eager to add more flowers to the back yard that will attract hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies.

The bathroom could stand to be painted, too, but I will have to move the washer and dryer out of there, so it's a huge hassle. The kitchen walls and ceiling need painted, too, but I have to buy new kitchen lighting. I'd also like to paint the exterior doors eventually--I have a deep fuschia color picked out. I'm hoping that those projects will happen over summer. It's time to focus on the garden--and to take some time to teach and work on the tattoo project, so my aching joints can heal a bit before another paint job. 

So, I'm back into the waiting game regarding submissions--my work is now out at 64 different presses, if I count small submissions + the manuscript.

27 March 2021

Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize.

Sometimes, I think all I need to do is complain about something a few times, and I'll feel good enough to take care of business. I spent some time last night on a CV from 2017. I was surprised I had it--I thought for sure it had been at least 10-12 years since I updated one. 

So, this morning I opened it up, reorganized a few things, proofread it, and I sent my manuscript + CV to the Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize. 

The results of two fall contests haven't been announced yet, so my book is under consideration at five publishers right now, I feel really good about that! And, I have a chapbook manuscript out at a fall contest, too.