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Month: March 2019

Poem of the Day: James Wright

A BLESSING

Just off the highway to Rochester, Minnesota,
Twilight bounds softly forth on the grass.
And the eyes of those two Indian ponies
Darken with kindness.
They have come gladly out of the willows
To welcome my friend and me.
We step over the barbed wire into the pasture
Where they have been grazing all day, alone.
They ripple tensely, they can hardly contain their happiness   
That we have come.
They bow shyly as wet swans. They love each other.
There is no loneliness like theirs.   
At home once more,
They begin munching the young tufts of spring in the darkness.   
I would like to hold the slenderer one in my arms,
For she has walked over to me   
And nuzzled my left hand.   
She is black and white,
Her mane falls wild on her forehead,
And the light breeze moves me to caress her long ear
That is delicate as the skin over a girl’s wrist.
Suddenly I realize
That if I stepped out of my body I would break
Into blossom.

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—poem featured previously on Poetry Foundation, here

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Poem of the Day: Jennifer Jackson Berry

LOST & FOUND LOVE POEM WITH ORANGES & TRASH

Seven clementines line the counter.
I put the only three still firm
in my lunch bag. The segments
of the four remaining had pulled back
from the browning rind like
the brain is set back from the skull,
where blood collects post-trauma.
I cup the softened orbs.
The carpels move under that delicate, rugged covering.
& later when I look up
all kinds of oranges,
I find rind originates by a thickening
of a single ovary wall.
The fruit of any citrus tree: hesperidium, modified berries,
with seeds & flesh soft, self-fertile.
& at noon I press my thumbnail near the stem, 3x piercing
then stripping to the pith.
I will find that heady scent still
with me hours later when I touch my face.
& when I get home
the sweet fruit are buried in the trash.  

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—poem from Jennifer Jackson Berry’s poetry collection, The Feeder, here

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My Resources & Shop Page is Now Live!

Hi and Happy Tuesday to my reading and writing friends!

As a part of “Promo Tuesday,” I wanted to share that my Resources & Shop Page is now live! There, you will find everything I’m offering that doesn’t fall under Services: printables, e-books, activities and prompts, external resources that make my writing life easier, and products that make my writing life more fun!

Enjoy! If there is something you’re looking for and need suggestions, feel free to Connect with me. And if you have a product or service you would like to feature, feel free to Connect with me about that, too!

To your success! Until Tomorrow, All Best ~ from me.

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Poem of the Day: Linda Gregg

HARD SEASON

Already the spring lilacs are failing,

in pieces and chunks, the way rust

ruins metal everywhere.

It doesn’t take much of that before

she begins not to care. Which makes her

want to rip the flawed flowers

maliciously from the bushes, seeing how

wind and butterflies and blossoming

can be confused with feeling.

Love lies on the mountain with calm

and counterweight. In the center,

with the presence, in the sunlight.

*

—poem from American Poetry Review 28.5, here

*

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Poem of the Day: Mary Oliver

HOW I GO TO THE WOODS

Ordinarily, I go to the woods alone, with not a single
friend, for they are all smilers and talkers and therefore 
unsuitable.

I don’t really want to be witnessed talking to the catbirds 
or hugging the old black oak tree. I have my way of 
praying, as you no doubt have yours. 

Besides, when I am alone I can become invisible. I can sit
on the top of a dune as motionless as an uprise of weeds, 
until the foxes run by unconcerned. I can hear the almost
unhearable sound of the roses singing.

If you have ever gone to the woods with me, I must love
you very much.

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—poem from Swan: Poems and Prose Poems, here

*

Interested in having your poem featured with the Poem of the Day Series? See the How to Submit page for details.

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There’s a New Series Coming! How Do I Submit?

Happy Sunday, reading and writing friends!

I’m here to very happily announce my Poem of the Day series, discontinued more than a year ago, will be re-launched, alongside two additional series: my Favorite Fiction Friday Series and the Saturday Spotlight.

Poets, Fiction Writers, and Playwrights are welcome to submit to the Poem of the Day and Favorite Fiction Friday Series, but the Saturday Spotlight is open to all writers of all genres, creative or otherwise; and writers are welcome to submit a piece to feature, or some other aspect of their writing life (where they write, how they approach writing, writing tips, inspiration, etc.).

The goal of each of these Series, in particular the Saturday Spotlight, is to bring attention to any and all writers, and to celebrate how valuable and unique each of our writing lives are, no matter how different they may look when held up in the light.

To submit, please see the How to Submit page. Happy Writing! I look forward to reading your work and celebrating many of you across our writing community.

Happy Sunday! Until Tomorrow, All Best ~ from me.

&

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In Honor of Linda Gregg: One Poem (For Now)

The last few times we’ve lost a poet, I’ve had the privilege of knowing them, or at least loving their work. Today, with the loss of Linda Gregg, I walked into the unfamiliar place of not knowing a poet by name, or not being able to associate them with at least one poem.

Today, I lingered in the corner while my fellow writers mourned the loss of a friend, of family, of inspiration. Repeatedly, I read how the world would be a darker place, a colder one, one less forgiving, one less beautiful, without her.

This evening, I spent a little time browsing for her work, starting simply enough with any poems available through Linda Gregg’s Poets.org profile.

All I have the energy to say now is, to the poets near me, my grief has risen up with yours.

Linda Gregg’s poetry is beautiful, an almost insufferable lyric that intertwines imagery and the declarative, the simple and the subtle, what we take advantage of and what is beautiful, into tight, breathless poems that accelerate from phrase 1 and through the end. After only a few poems, this is what I can say of her: high praise.

I’ll be ordering a few of her books tonight—recommendations of favorites are endlessly welcome—and I’ll inevitably be back with more poems, some of my own, and probably a literary essay, based on how charged I currently feel.

But for now, good night and solidarity, my fellow writers. If you knew her, I imagine your life was better. If, like me, you didn’t, you can still share in her words.

Here is my favorite poem so far. It’s killing me, and I hope it never leaves me.

THE CALVES NOT CHOSEN

The mind goes caw, caw, caw, caw,   
dark and fast. The orphan heart   
cries out, “Save me. Purchase me   
as the sun makes the fruit ripe.
I am one with them and cannot feed   
on winter dawns.” The black birds   
are wrangling in the fields
and have no kindness, all sinew
and stick bones. Both male and female.   
Their eyes are careless of cold and rain,   
of both day and night. They love nothing   
and are murderous with each other.   
All things of the world are bowing   
or being taken away. Only a few calves   
will be chosen, the rest sold for meat.   
The sound of the wind grows bigger   
than the tree it’s in, lessens only   
to increase. Haw, haw the crows call,   
awake or asleep, in white, in black.

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March 2019: My First Attempt at #PitMad

Years ago, I read Stephen Markley’s Publish This Book, pictured, cropped, as the featured image of this post (and that image borrowed from StrategicPoints, FYI). The front and back cover dynamics of this particular work aren’t an example of what I would usually call “stunning,” but they really are in their own way certainly eye-catching, and an illumination of what is contained in the text, which is so often missed by book covers.

Anyway—book cover design is a whole other subject I won’t be diving into tonight (but know that I could easily spend multiple posts on it: colors, fonts, consistencies, how I approach designing them, etc. etc. etc.). No, the real reason I used that image tonight, and why I took a moment to even talk about it, is the time in which I came across the book and what it meant for me as a writer, retrospectively, and what that did for me today, during my first—if entirely improvisational—round of #PitMad on Twitter.

Some of you may have been a fan of the Borders Group bookstore chain, prior to its close in 2011. I was admittedly very fond of the chain, particularly the location set not too far away from my high school, university, and where I went to church back then. Every Sunday, for approximately two years, I would buy myself lunch on Sunday and then go to Borders, browse books for a while, and then sit writing in their cafe for who-knows-how-long over a drink or a treat or both. It’s sobering to me that I launched this blog the very same year that the Group folded, not even a full three years into what I own as the true beginning of my writing life in 2008 (even though I’ve technically been writing since I was a child, with dozens of half-used diaries and notebooks, and an old refurbished Roland typewriter). It was the time when I was beginning to take my passion seriously, as something I should be pursuing, rather than something to be placed on the back-burner in sight of other endeavors, like I unfortunately did with my love for drawing and piano. It was the time when I began to revise my works in the hopes of publication. It was the time when I began networking with others, not just out of friendship but out of kinship in our shared writing life. And it was the time when I began to learn more about publishing and rejection, through my position as a Managing Editor of an important literary press, and through my discovery of this book by Stephen Markley.

Admittedly, I didn’t know about this book and came across it entirely by accident (which I believe can be the best kind of encounter with books at times—plus I didn’t have nearly so much access to knowledge of new publications as I do now—so I feel little regret in this). For those of you who were fans of Borders like I was, you may also remember the huge wave of sales tags that swept across their stores as they cleared out inventory. It was horrible seeing so much yellow and orange in one place, but I tried to make the best of it, continuing to visit my favorite store every Sunday until the end, bringing as much money with me as I could afford each time to give some of their books a good home. This is when I happened across Publish This Book.

The cover, subtitle, and use of footnotes—so many footnotes—had me laughing in the aisle where I previewed the book, and this younger me took solace in another writer’s journey to publication. I wasn’t even 22 yet, so dreams of having a New York Times best-selling agent, offering a five-book deal and poetry publication options to go with it, were still reigning large, ridiculous, and impossible in the back of my mind. (I still carry with my great ambitions, but they are much quieter, tamer, now.) But all-in-all, this book offered to me a voice of humor in the process, and I believe brought me to the world of accepting rejection as a necessity much sooner than I might have discovered it myself.

I discussed this concept of rejection-as-necessity at length over on my Facebook page yesterday. In short, I explained how I had been rejected for two positions in the last two weeks that would have been life-changing for me: they aligned with my beliefs and how I want to give back, they fulfilled what I wanted to do with my career, I had efficiently performed all of the tasks of the positions in the past, and performing these positions simply would have been something I would have loved. In short, these rejections struck me in a very deep place, because of their importance, but I decided to give myself the day to clean and move past the disappointment, and then to write until I either wrote something I loved, or until I was too tired to write anymore. I did as I required: I cleaned, I wrote, I found something I loved, and I wrote until I was mentally exhausted. And I was able to look back over those pages this morning with pride, agreeing with my last night’s self that what I had written was of quality and something I could spend time revising at a later date.

And it was this feeling of acceptance and calm that I carried with me into my first #PitMad today. I came to it late, around 1:00 PM – CST, and I came to it unprepared; I had heard of #PitMad in the past, but I didn’t know when it occurred (in March and June, if you’re wondering!). Only because a fellow writer posted about it did I discover it and then hop on over into the Twitter-verse. In minutes, I composed my first pitch and sent it out—and then composed three more. With only 280 characters to work with, I didn’t see the reason to spend days, or even hours, drafting my pitch, when there were only seven hours left in the trending marathon. Rather, I trusted my instincts to minimize the synopses I had already written for these works; I trusted myself to know what was the most important to share, and to ship them off in search of consideration.

I’m sure someone will judge me for the lack of preparation, or for having the gall to send out four pitches. But I think there is little, if anything, to be ashamed of when you are excited about what you’re working on. When you’re excited, you should share. Heck, if you’re struggling or unsure of what you’re working on, you should share that with someone, too, in an effort to get back on-track. But I went into this today to be a part of the writing community I’ve come to admire so much, and I wanted to check myself and see if there was any interest (outside of my own) in what I’ve been working on.

And there was. Plenty more re-tweets than I was expecting, a handful of very respectful direct messages I didn’t expect to receive, and one favorite from a small press. Anyone can hope that all of their pitches are going to be picked up, and maybe even by multiple presses so they have some options, but there is something humbling, and even more satisfying, in receiving positive feedback from fellow writers. Too often we are pitted against each other; too often we view each other as competition. So when a group of writers reaches out to me with glowing remarks, I come away glowing, too, with or without a publishing lead.

So, my very simple advice to you tonight? Keep writing, and keep seeking out the work you love—by writers you admire, by writers you don’t know, and by yourself. Involve yourself in the writing community in any way you feel comfortable, big or small, assuming or not. And maybe come to #PitMad a little more prepared, or at least a little earlier in the day, than I did; but even if you’re not 100% prepared, consider pitching anyway. You never know who will have your back, writers or agents alike, and you never know what to-be books you’ll discover and want to read, if you never join in on the conversation.

Until Tomorrow ~ All the Writing Love, from me.

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Interested in Publish This Book? You can find it here:
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