16 November 2020

Watching my submissions move from "Received" to "In Progress" at Submittable.

It's unhealthy, really, to spend too much time obsessing over who's reading what right now. That doesn't mean I don't do it--I'm always logged into Submittable to see if any of my submissions are moving forward. 

Four out of five first book awards are now reading my manuscript--the fourth just flipped to "In Progress" today. Two of the chapbook contests have started reading, too. I know that none of them are announcing winners until spring, but I'm really excited. 

I also have a submission out at Kenyon Review that just flipped to "In Progress" within the last few days. As far as I''m concerned, every day that I don't receive a rejection letter from them is a step in the right direction. Having a poem published in KR is one of my career goals--I'll never not submit there. I think the poems they're considering are representative of some of my strongest work, so hopefully something will stand out. I also had to withdraw a poem from that submission--I like to think that that might add a layer of thinking that other editors are finding something relevant in my work. I also like to over-analyze everything.

I realize this may not be the year that I publish my first book, but this is definitely the year I started taking my first book seriously.

14 November 2020

Two final book awards/contests for 2020.

I decided to throw my hat in the ring for two more first book prizes--and this will be the end of manuscript submissions for 2020. I like to think that now I'm just hoping that I have one of the five best first books of the year, not THE best book of the year. 

I submitted to BOA Editions A. Poulin, Jr. Book Prize. This contest awards publication of the book by BOA in 2022, plus $1000.00. The deadline is November 30, and Aimee Nezhukumatathil is the final judge for this contest. Because our subject matter is similar, I'm hoping that this may prove to be to my benefit. 

I also decided to send to The Academy of American Poets First Book Award. I was going to pass on this contest, but since the deadline is this Monday--November 16th--and yesterday was payday, I decided that the $35.00 fee was do-able. This is a $5,000 first book prize, which is simply amazing. The winning book will be published by Graywolf Press, and this award includes an all-expenses-paid six-week residency at the Civitella Ranieri Center in Italy. Claudia Rankine is the judge this year, and while her work is SO different than my own, the monetary prize attached to this award has completely seduced me. Another check in my column is that the manuscripts submitted for this contest cannot include acknowledgments. I think that works in my favor, because a handful of my poems were published in 2007 and 2012, I worry that those old credits reflect poorly on the collection. They belong there, but I worry it reads like I can't possibly scrape together enough new work to fill the manuscript.

Having a book published by Graywolf or BOA would be a dream come true. Both will announce winners this coming spring.

12 November 2020

Another book prize--The Perugia Prize.

I decided to send my full-length manuscript out to another contest--the Perugia Press Prize. They only publish one title per year, so it's fairly exclusive, but they focus on first and second books from women writers, so I thought it was a worthwhile opportunity.

I changed the title of the manuscript to Faster than Hares and Rabbits, which is the last line of a poem in the collection. The deadline is Sunday--November 15th--so I'm hoping that a last-minute entry might grant me some attention. 

Along with publication and ten author copies of the book, the prize includes $1000, and input into the design and editing.

I'm crossing my fingers, and I'm hoping that while 2020 has been a humdinger of a year, it will prove to be the year I wrote my first published book of poetry, as well.

The Gateway Review: Volume 6, Issue 3

The Gateway Review published their newest issue on November 10th, so my poem "The Language of Sisters" is now officially published. 

The Gateway Review: Vol. 6, No. 3

I am going to wait a few more weeks before I include the poem on my blog, but I'm excited to receive the print copy within the week. 

08 November 2020

Chapbooks, calls for submissions, and rounding up additional work.

So I sent out a manuscript titled Most Likely to Drown to the two first book awards I've already mentioned this fall, but as I've also mentioned, I've been thinking about chapbook contests/calls for submissions, too.

I decided this weekend that I should take a look at some older poetry files, and at newer poems that aren't in my current manuscript. I realized I have enough work to compile a chapbook manuscript that\"s completely unique from the full-length manuscript. 

I spent Saturday morning whittling a list of about 45 poems down to the 28 strongest works, and I am pretty satisfied with the result. To be honest, I've made the short list twice in chapbook competitions with a manuscript that was not as strong as this new one. I titled the collection Kill Jars, after a poem that is included, but I'm contemplating Swallows and Hares as a better title.

I didn't debate--I sent the collection out already to three publishers: The American Poetry Journal's chapbook series, Beloit Poetry Journal's Chad Walsh Chapbook Series, and Black Lawrence Press open reading period for chapbooks. All three of these opportunities are calls for submissions, not contests. However, the Chad Walsh Chapbook Series selects only one collection--and that author receives a $2500 prize (NEW for 2020), 50 author copies (perfect bound, full-color cover), and an in-depth editorial consultation, so it seems a bit more like a contest in that I'd receive more than the publication and distribution of the resulting book.

I also received a rejection letter from the online publication Sixth Finch this week, and in that rejection letter, they mentioned submitting to their open chapbook call, so I'll likely send to them, as well. For whatever reason, they do not have their chapbook call published on Submittable, so I am hoping there might be only a small pool of manuscripts there. 

It's hard to know what editors are receiving--are they just overwhelmed with a ton of manuscripts and original work, since so many people are spending more time at home during the pandemic, or are writers preoccupied with other facets of their life right now and therefore are not sending out work like they might in a usual year? I'm not sure . . . so I just keep stacking the deck in my favor as frequently as I can. 

This week, I also sent a selection of four poems to Stonecrop Magazine, out of the College of Western Idaho.

05 November 2020

So anxious about other stuff, rejections are just a blip.

It's been a hectic, stressful week . . . the presidential election certainly has everyone on the edge of their sofas, but I'm also at the end of Week 6 in my school term. I have just so much grading to get done this week, and my nerves are shot. Student emails are out of control some mornings--they're all stressed out and overworked and on their last nerve, too. I feel like I spend the first four hours of every day just clawing my way back to where I left off the day before. It sucks! 

That being said, I have a therapy appointment in a couple of hours. I am SO grateful I scheduled it--I've been doing pretty well, and this appointment is actually four weeks out from my last appointment. I think Barb and I are on the verge of taking a break, but I'm reluctant to let go of the security of at least a monthly appointment. When I look at the last year, there's been a lot going on. I just passed the year anniversary of my divorce settlement, and he passed away in late February. I've been on COVID-19 lockdown for seven months now, and it's not looking like that's changing anytime soon. Sometimes I stop and realize everything that I've been shouldering, and I'm lucky I'm doing so well. I think it helps that I live alone, and that I live so far from family--where that would drive some people crazy, this time alone has been restorative and productive. 

I was planning on flying home to West Virginia for Christmas, but with COVID cases climbing everywhere, it seems unwise. I live in a relatively safe pocket of Oregon, and my parents are living in a fairly safe county in West Virginia. I am just too worried about what could happen as I sweep through three to four airports during holiday season on my way there. I think it's too big of a risk. My mom is disappointed, but we're hopeful that I could visit in late winter/early spring, since I'll be teaching remotely until April.

ANYHOW, amid all this other stimuli, I've received two rejection letters--one from the minnesota review, and one from decomp. I was hopeful about the minnesota review submission; I sent them a really strong set of poems, and I thought something might catch their eye. decomp did welcome me to submit again, which was nice. decomp is a journal I think of as one I know I've seen multiple times during the AWP Book Fairs . . . so in my brain's file drawers, they're an AWP Book Fair publication. the minnesota review is on the list of journals I hope to see my work in one day. It's been around forever, and it has a solid reputation. Hopefully, next time!

02 November 2020

A new poem, a few thoughts on my process, and some submissions.

It's Monday, and Mondays usually end up being a partial extension of my weekend. I am always up early to answer student emails and to make sure that the week's lessons are all prepared and assignments are all working properly across my four online classes. Monday at 8 am is always my students' weekly assignment deadline, and it's also when the next new week's assignments open up, so the morning can be hectic and full of emails. Even so, I usually switch gears to writing, revising, and submitting my own work after lunch.

(I often grade late into Fridays and Saturdays, and following those sorts of working weekends, I don't feel bad about salvaging a scrap of Monday afternoons for my own work. This past weekend, I was grading until 4:30 pm on Saturday, which was awful.)

I pulled a few newer lines from a writing journal this morning, and I think it is already shaped into a passable draft of a new poem. It's titled "That Long, Vacant Room," until something else jumps out of the poem's lines and makes a better title. 

These lines were part of a found poem that I cobbled together in October: with both hands, she slipped into his mouth, and made up a bed in that long, vacant room. I really like it--and although the poem is rough, with these lines in the mix, I think there's some potential there. 

My process includes snips of found poetry from time to time--I use found poetry in my altered book journals, and while much of that doesn't translate over to my written poetry, I do find the art and craft of found poetry to be a wonderful way to generate new ideas and to look at word choices in a very different way. A few of my favorite lines in my own poems started from a found poetry exercise; the practice rarely lets me down when I'm feeling stuck. Somehow, at least to me, when words are cut free from the context of the page, they can become more flexible or versatile. More fluid, almost. It opens my mind and stirs things up. Even if I'm feeling too blocked or stuck to write, I can usually muster enough energy to get out my "found poetry kit" and move words and phrases around on a sheet of paper for a few hours. 

Also today, I rounded up a few poems and sent some work to the Barely South Review, and I sent a poem to The Fourth River. TFR is published at Chatham University, where I earned my MFA--I've never sent them any of my work--not in the 15 years since I've graduated. The idea of it always made me a little uncomfortable. However, they have a weekly online feature called "Tributaries," and I'm hoping that the poem I submitted--titled "Grief"--might find a home there.

"Threshold" accepted for publication at The Elevation Review.

I received an email this morning from the editor of The Elevation Review, and they are going to publish my poem "Threshold" in their next issue.

"Threshold" is a part of the second sampling of poems I've sent to this publication--they rejected a submission in July or August--they're actually one of the first places I sent work to this summer. Although that first set of poems was rejected, I received an email from the editor asking me to resubmit work for their next issue. I did, and I'm delighted to see that they've found something of mine that will work with their vision. 

The Elevation Review is a fledgling online journal, and I've generally been getting a little pickier about sending to online journals, especially those that only have a few issues under their belt. However, this one already has such a polished, professional website and feel. The editor-in-chief, Thomas Kneeland, has done some fantastic work with this journal--both in design and in content. I look forward to being part of their third issue; I will update this post when the issue goes live. 

The Elevation Review

01 November 2020

Finally, submission success at Poetry Northwest.

I have been trying to submit work at Poetry Northwest for a few months--they limit their monthly poetry submissions to 300, and I continually forget to check on the first or second of the month. This morning, however, I was ready! I've had a selection of four poems at the ready--and I uploaded them this morning as soon as the dropbox opened. 

I hope to hear from a few more journals this coming week . . . October 31st was a big fall deadline, so I'm thinking a few places hold their initial choice and rejections until after the deadline passes, just in case. 

In my own writing, I've revised a few pieces this week, and I've written a few new fragments. I am actually caught up on essay grading until tomorrow morning, so I'm planning to spend a bit of my Sunday working on some new things. 

I've also started a new altered book--this year has been very good for my journaling; I usually fill one book per year, and this year, I'm on my third large book. I've also made three smaller journals. I feel like being at home has been good for my creativity, and my peace in general. 

I think I have a video of me flipping through one of this year's books--I'll look around and see if I can find it.