Monday, June 28, 2010

Poetry Salon: A Celebration

Yesterday my good friend, Jessica deKoninck, held a poetry salon to celebrate the publication of my new book, Temptation by Water. I think that the at-home salon is my favorite kind of reading. I feel very fortunate to have a pal who offered to host such an event for me. I also feel fortunate to have good friends/poets who came to celebrate with me and to pick up a copy of the book. I am a big proponent of poets supporting each others' work. Yesterday was a great example of poets doing just that.

We gathered in Jessica's living room at 4:00. The table was filled with snacks. Champagne and wine were served. I signed books. Lots of good conversation. Then I read and babbled on for about 20 minutes. That was followed by a Q&A, always fun. Then more conversation and more signing. A happy day.

I hope that if you have a friend with a book coming out you will consider hosting a salon. In days of old these were commonly held for various artistic events. I hope they're making a comeback.

My favorite picture

During the reading

Lauren and Ray--what's that in Lauren's arms?

David and Elizabeth--what's that in Elizabeth's lap?

Susan and Ellen--what's that in their laps?

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A Poem for Belle Yang

Where do poems come from? That's a question I'm often asked during school visits, at Q & A's following readings, and in workshops. It's not the same as that other question I'm often asked: Did that really happen? The second questioner wants to get into my personal life; the first questioner wants to get into my brain. That person wants to know where I find the ideas.

I say that the ideas come from all over the place, from everything around me, from bits of overheard conversations, song lyrics, current events (especially weird stuff), paintings, tv shows, movies, and daily activities, such as a trip to the dentist or the purchase of a new two-door mailbox. I mention the need for attentiveness, for curiosity (euphemism for nosiness), observation (spying), and listening (eavesdropping)—the importance of developing the poet's eye and the poet's ear. I talk about the importance of an idea journal, of writing it down.

Now I can also add a new source to the list: social network sites. I've been told by a number of poets that they won't join such sites as Red Room, Facebook, She Writes, Goodreads, or Twitter because they fear the loss of writing time. They fear they'd fritter away the hours issuing status updates, attending webinars, posting stars on books, and pecking out 140-character snippets of information about what they had for lunch.

But I have found that such sites fuel my writing life. I've become part of an extended community of poets and prose writers, many of whom are very supportive of each others' work. I've booked a few reading dates, been interviewed, and had my books reviewed. And yes, I've even written a poem as a direct result of frittering away my time online.

Back in August of 2009, Huntington Sharp, the owner of Red Room, invited blogging members to post entries on the topic of obsession. I'd already written an article on that very topic for an anthology that never materialized. I dug it out, revised it, and posted it. That piece, "Fruit Fix: My Obsession," was then selected as one of ten featured blog posts that week.

Belle Yang, a novelist, painter, memoirist, and fellow member of Red Room, read my post and left this comment: "Now the Chinese are obsessed with fruit. I've always wondered why Westerners, especially children, do not like fruit the way we do. I bought 2 lbs of lychee, juicy, sweet, for several friends, thinking they would be so very happy to have a bowl of this rarity. They merely said it was too sweet. What about the subtle fragrance, and the translucence of the peeled fruit? The color and the texture? What a waste of fruit. They prefer chocolates, heavy on the tongue and coffee. I think the Asian palate is much more sensitive to nuance and fruit is all nuance."
I replied, "Oh yes, you've got it just right—the sensuous, sensual qualities of fruit. But don't make me choose between fruit and chocolate. I want them both."
Then Belle replied, "I think genetics predisposes us to choose between fruit and chocolates.  My mother prefers white chocolate, which isn't chocolate at all, and loves fruit.  I'd choose a good guava over chocolate any ol' day."

My senses were tickled, and my curiosity. I'd never tasted lychee, didn't really know what it was. I did what I often do when hatching a poem: I googled. I learned that lychee is an Asian fruit, comes in different colors, is reputed to be an aphrodisiac, and has a sexy history having been the favorite fruit of an emperor's favorite concubine. I was willing to try it, but I also wanted to win Belle over to chocolate. I also sensed a cultural gap at play and wondered if I could bridge that gap with poetry.

Many drafts later I ended up with my poem, "You Offer Lychee to Your American Friends." That was the last poem to go into my new book, Temptation by Water. I knew it had to go in because it's about temptation, resistance, and capitulation. That poem would not exist if I didn't belong to Red Room, if I hadn't answered Huntington's call, if Belle Yang hadn't left a comment. Thank you, Belle. That poem's for you.

Am I frittering away valuable writing time? Sometimes, sure, but other times, I'm hunting and gathering. I'm a poet; that's what I do.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Poetry Festival 2010: The Movie

Here's the video I made of this year's Poetry Festival: A Celebration of Literary Journals. It's a tad over 4 minutes, about one minute per hour of the festival. I hope it captures the flavor of the day and makes you almost feel like you were there. I hope, too, that next year you really will be there.

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Friday, June 18, 2010

Reading at the Frost Farm

Robert Crawford, Midge Goldberg, me, William Gleed (farm manager)
at the entrance to the barn

I made it to New Hampshire and back. Drove up yesterday, checked into my hotel, had something to eat, got ready for the reading, then headed out to the farm. I had high expectations for this reading, but I've learned from experience that it's best to go with so-so expectations. So I was worried that maybe I had set myself up to be disappointed. Wrong! This reading was the kind that's just right. My high expectations were exceeded.

My host, Kyle Potvin, could not have been nicer. She was at the barn to greet me and introduce me to the rest of the gang. The barn is a great venue to read in. It's quite large and has a nifty loft. Lots of pictures of Frost on the walls. Poetry in the air. We had a nice turnout of genuine poetry lovers and book lovers who bought books before and after the reading! My co-reader, Midge Goldberg, went first and was terrific. This audience was incredibly responsive, just a delight to read for. I could not have found a better audience for my first reading with my new book, Temptation by Water. They gave it a lovely welcome into the poetry world.

Then there was a short open reading which was beautifully managed by Robert Crawford who, it turns out, is Midge's husband. He asked readers to limit themselves to 1 or 2 poems of modest length. And everyone cooperated! Our first reader was a first grader who had to stand on a chair to be seen over the podium. He and all the others were really good poets and all read very well. That ended up being my favorite open I've ever been to.

Two of my poet pals, Tim Mayo and Pat Fargnoli, drove up all the way from Keene, a two-hour drive. How nice was that! Then as I was leaving, Kyle presented me with a gift bag which contained the most delicious fudge. Perfect treat when I returned to the hotel. I was going to eat only one piece, but ate two. Big pieces.

And as if all that weren't enough, I had an email from Huntington Sharp over at Red Room, an online authors' network, telling me that my new book was Book of the Day. See it there in the upper right hand corner? What a nice ending to a great evening.

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Reading at Robert Frost Farm This Week

I'll be reading this Thursday, June 17, at the Robert Frost Farm in Derry, New Hampshire. I'm really looking forward to this. The other Frost Farm, the one in Franconia, New Hampshire, is very dear to me, and I have a nice feeling that this one will be too. This series is run by the Hyla Brook Poets. During the winter months, the Hyla Brook Reading Series is held at Bean Towne Coffee House & Café in Hampstead. From June through September, the readings take place at the Frost Farm. So this Thursday will be the first held this year in the barn. I'll be joined by Midge Goldberg, a poet who lives in Derry. I'll be reading some poems from my hot-off-the-press new book, Temptation by Water. If you're in the area, please come!

Here are the details:
122 Rockingham Road / rt 28, Derry NH 03038
Phone: 603-432-3091
6:30 PM

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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Summer Journals: Q thru Z

Here's the third and final installment of the list of print journals that read during the summer months. Remember that the asterisks indicate that the journal accepts simultaneous submissions. Again, please let me know if you spot any errors or omissions. Good luck!

This mailbox thinks you're a winner!

 **The Raleigh Review—1x
All year

**Rattle-2x—email subs ok

**Redactions—1x—by email


**Rhino-1x-April 1-Oct 1

**River Oak Review--2x

**River Styx-2x-May thru Nov



**Smartish Pace--2x

**Sonora Review-2x
reads but does not respond in summer

**South Dakota Review-4x

Southern Humanities Review--4x

**Southern Poetry Review—2x

**The Sun-12x-prev pub ok

**Third Coast--2x


**Tusculum Review—1x

Virginia Quarterly

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Friday, June 11, 2010

Summer Journals: G thru P

Here's the second installment of the list of journals that read during the summer months. I've removed several from last year's list, but have not checked each and every one. If you find any errors or have others to add to the list, please let me know. Good luck with your submissions.

This mailbox delivers only good mail.


**The Grove Review—1x

Hanging Loose--3x

**Harpur Palate—2x

**Hawk & Handsaw—1x
Aug 1-Oct 1

**Hayden’s Ferry--2x

**Hiram Poetry Review-1x

Hudson Review-April 1-July 31 (all year if a subscriber)

**Hunger Mountain-1x

**Inkwell-Aug 1-Nov 30

**The Journal--2x


**Lake Effect—1x

**Literal Latte--6x

Louisiana Literature-2x

**Madison Review-2x
(will hold until Sept)

Manhattan Review-1x
(prefers no sim but will take)

**Margie—June 1-Aug 1-1x
subscriber all year

Michigan Quarterly Review-4x

**Mid-American Review-2x

**The Midwest Quarterly Review--4x

Missouri Review-3x--6-12 poems

**The Nation

**Natural Bridge-July 1-Aug 31-2x

**New American Writing—June-Jan—1x

**New Orleans Review--2x

**New York Quarterly—3x


North American Review-5x

**OnEarth Magazine--4x-nature
(formerly Amicus Journal)

**Ontario Review-2x

**Parnassus: Poetry in Review--2x


**Ploughshares—June 1 to January 15--3x

**PMS Poemmemoirstory-Sept thru Nov-1x

**Poet Lore--2x

**Poetry Miscellany-1x-tabloid-e-mail

**Potomac Review-2x

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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Summer Journals: A thru F

During the summer many of us have more time to write and submit, but quite a few journals close their doors to submissions for the summer months. Do not despair. There are still many journals that do read during the summer and some that read only during the summer. This is the first of a 3-part list of those journals. I have given it a somewhat cursory updating, so if you note any errors, please let me know. These are all print journals. Sadly, a number had to be removed this year as they have closed their doors permanently.

This mailbox only receives Acceptances!

**Indicates that simultaneous submission is ok

**American Poetry Journal—2x
    (summer only for subscribers)

American Poetry Review--6x-tabloid

**Another Chicago Magazine-2x-Feb-Aug 31

**Asheville Poetry Review--3x--deadline
    July 15

**Atlanta Review--deadlines June 1 &
    Dec 1

**Baltimore Review-2x

**Barn Owl Review—1x—June 1--Nov. 30—email sub

**Barrow Street--2x

**Bat City Review—May 1-Nov 1-1x

**Bateau—year round—2x—email sub

Beloit Poetry Journal--3x

Birmingham Poetry Review-2x--deadlines Nov 1 & May 1

**Black Warrior Review-2x
    some long poems-4 poems

Bloodroot Literary Magazine-April 1 thru Sept 1--1x

**Briar Cliff Review--1x-Aug 1-Nov 1

**Burnside Review—2x—email sub ok

**Caketrain—1x—email sub ok

**Center—July 1-Nov. 30

Chariton Review


Cider Press Review--1x-email subs
    April 1-Aug 31

**Cimarron Review-4x


**Columbia Poetry Review—Aug 1-Nov 30

**Connecticut Review--temp closed

**Crab Orchard Review—Aug 1-Nov. 20 (special issue)


5 AM--2x-tabloid

**The Florida Review--2x

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Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Power of Poetry to Heal

The following story appeared last week in my local newspaper. This girl lives one town over from where I live. I was touched by her story of courage and determination. I was also once again stunned by the power that poetry has to make our lives better. Please read Meghan's story and send her your good thoughts.

Meghan Gambichler shares her story of battling cancer in Roseland, NJ
Published: May 28th

Pictured on the left is Meghan Gambichler, 17, shown with Sharon Burton Turner, chair of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, at her speaking engagement at the New Jersey Governor’s Mansion for the Poetry Out Loud state finals.

ROSELAND – Seventeen-year-old Meghan Gambichler was a guest speaker at Drumthwacket, the New Jersey Governor’s Mansion, at the ceremony for the Poetry Out Loud state finals in March, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts and The Poetry Foundation.

Poetry has been a significant part of the teen’s life, particularly as she has battled T-Cell Lymphoblastic Lymphoma for the past two years with the help of the Valerie Fund Children’s Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children’s Hospital of New Jersey (CHNJ). CHNJ is part of Newark Beth Israel Medical Center and an affiliate of the St. Barnabas Health Care System.

“Going through chemo was definitely the hardest experience of my life,” Meghan told the audience of nearly 200. “I often felt like I wouldn’t be able to make it another day. However, I found many outlets that helped me escape the reality of my new life. One in particular, was poetry.”

Poetry Out Loud encourages the nation’s youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and performance. Students compete in school-wide competitions, advance to regional and state competitions and ultimately to the National Finals. Gambichler won at the high school level, representing West Essex Regional High School, North Caldwell, at the North Regional competition and, while she did not win on the regional level, she made an impression on the judges and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. In an unprecedented request, they asked her to be a student guest speaker at the state finals and share her personal story.

Gambichler was 14 when she was first diagnosed with lymphoma. She has spent countless days in the Valerie Fund Center at CHNJ, at first on an every day basis and more recently every other week now that she is in the maintenance phase of her treatment. The high school junior has continued her education through home schooling.

The challenge of being a young teenager who was suddenly a cancer patient changed Gambichler’s life, but the special relationship she has always had with poetry inspired her to get better, brought her strength and a positive outlook. In spite of her personal struggles, she continues to find ways to raise awareness of childhood cancer and the special needs of children undergoing treatment by raising funds for CHNJ’s Valerie Fund Center.

The Valerie Fund Children’s Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at CHNJ offers comprehensive care for children and young adults with cancer. The center provides medical and psychosocial care at the time of diagnosis, during treatment and long-term care after treatment in its facility.

Gambichler says speaking at the Governor’s Mansion for “Poetry Out Loud” was “an amazing experience.” Her mother, Joanne Magliaro, concurs, describing her daughter’s address to the audience as “very brave and heartfelt.” The audience gave the young poet a standing ovation at the conclusion of her remarks in which she said:

“My wish for all of you here today is that poetry will bring to you as much as it has brought to me,” she said. “It has helped me meet my challenges, given me fond memories, hours of enjoyment, and lessons learned. Although I know I will always face challenges to overcome, I now know that no matter what I am going through, poetry will always be there to help me through it all. For me the words of poet William Ernest Henley ring clear – ‘I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.’”

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Countdown to Publication: Counting No More

Yesterday's sidebar counter said, "It is finally here!" Not quite, but I was nervously awaiting a box of 20 advance copies. My publisher had rush ordered them so that I would have copies for this weekend's Caffe Lena Poetry Festival.

The publication schedule got a bit behind as a devilish margin error had crept in—a tedious, laborious fix, but it had to be done. All in all, I proofed the galleys five times. That was more than with the first two books, but when one error is fixed, sometimes another pops up, so with each new set of galleys, I really needed to carefully read the entire book all over again. I'm glad I did. I spotted an occasional orphan and some faulty indents that resulted from the margin repair. I spotted a word mysteriously missing from a title. In galleys #4 the margins were still messed up. Then they were fixed and all other errors also fixed.

This morning at 9:30 the doorbell rang. As I opened the door, I saw the UPS truck pulling away. There on the porch was this lovely sight.

I brought the box into the kitchen and carefully sliced open the top.

Oh, let them be lovely!

And they are! I hope I'm allowed to say that about my own book, but I could not be happier with the design of this book. I've been through the interior and so far have not spotted any goofs. Since these advance copies were rushed to me, the book isn't yet available, but will be soon. In the meantime, I've got some to take to the festival.

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