BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE
Barbara Crooker, who lives in Pennsylvania, has become one of this column's favorite poets. We try to publish work that a broad audience of readers can understand and, we hope, may be moved by, and this particular writer is very good at that. Here's an example from her collection, Gold, from Cascade Books.
is a river you wade in until you get to the other side.
But I am here, stuck in the middle, water parting
around my ankles, moving downstream
over the flat rocks. I'm not able to lift a foot,
move on. Instead, I'm going to stay here
in the shallows with my sorrow, nurture it
like a cranky baby, rock it in my arms.
I don't want it to grow up, go to school, get married.
It's mine. Yes, the October sunlight wraps me
in its yellow shawl, and the air is sweet
as a golden Tokay. On the other side,
there are apples, grapes, walnuts,
and the rocks are warm from the sun.
But I'm going to stand here,
growing colder, until every inch
of my skin is numb. I can't cross over.
Then you really will be gone.
We do not accept unsolicited submissions. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2013 by Barbara Crooker, “Grief” from Gold, (Cascade Books, 2013). Poem reprinted by permission of Barbara Crooker and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2016 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.
The NewPages Guide to Independent Publishers grew by five today, welcoming Hohm Press, Measure Press, Oneworld Publications, 3 Mile Harbor Press, and SolsticeLit Books (the book publishing arm of Solstice magazine).
Bookstore fanatics will find two new independent bookstores, Old Books on Front Street in Wilmington, North Carolina, and Books & Mortar in Grand Rapids, Michigan (shown right).
And finally, readers and writers can find three online literary magazines newly added to our Big List of Lit Mags: Starwheel Magazine, a short-works publication of The Riding Light Review; Cede Poetry, a new Canadian poetry magazine; and Beech Street Review, with submissions currently open for their second issue.
Check out the new sites added to NewPages today.
In Literary Links, the Second Hand Stories podcast showcases writing and writers from all around the world, stories read by Jim Szabo and Colleen Stewart. Heartbeat Literary Magazine, on the Big List of Lit Mags, publishes fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and artwork in frequent, online issues.
On the Big List of Alt Mags, find VIDA Review, the newly named section of the VIDA website that features interviews, articles, and essays on intersectional feminist and womanist thinking.
New on the Publisher's Guide, Nomadic Press publishes chapbooks, fiction, nonfiction, and poetry; and in Independent Bookstores, Wisconsin sees the addition of Downtown Books - Bought & Sold, a used bookstore located in Milwaukee.
And of course, it's a Monday, so our Magazine Stand features blurbs of fresh, new magazines issues.
Michigan Quarterly Review Summer 2016 cover photo is a rich perspective on the beauty of summer. "A Patch of Green" photo by MIchael Owen, 2014.
Cynthia Low's artwork appears both on the cover and is featured inside Subprimal Poetry Art, an online journal. See the full print and Low's commentary here.
Every one of us who teaches in higher ed should buy copies of this issue to give to our dean, provost, vice president, president. board of trustees - whomever is responsible for the decision-making that retains, and continues to increase, these miserable working conditions for adjunct faculty. Perhaps better still, assign this issue in your classes, have students read it; the real change will need to come from dissatisfied "customers." If they are outraged about egregious labor practices and refuse to buy their products from certain companies, they should be as equally outraged about the education for which they are paying a premium price to support an oppressed working majority. [Rattle cover artist Allison Merriweather]
September seems to be the month for award-winning book releases. This month, find the winners of Moon City Press’s 2015 Moon City Poetry Award, the 2015 The American Poetry Review/Honickman First Book Prize, and The University of Tampa Press’s 2015 Anita Claire Scharf Award.
Jeannine Hall Gailey brought home the Moon City Poetry Award with her fifth collection Field Guide to the End of the World, with a cover designed by the talented Charli Barnes (shown on the right). The poetry collection “delivers a whimsical look at our culture’s obsession with apocalypse.” Readers can pre-order copies from The University of Arkansas Press.
Likenesses by Heather Tone was chosen by Nick Flynn as the winner of The American Poetry Review/Honickman First Book Prize. Flynn says Likenesses, is an origin myth in its “attempts to create a world by naming it.” Copies of Tone’s first full collection of poetry will be distributed by Copper Canyon Press.
Patricia Hooper, the author of three previous books of poetry, received the Anita Claire Scharf Award, winners selected by the editors of the Tampa Review from among the manuscripts submitted to the annual Tampa Review Prize for Poetry. Hooper’s collection, Separate Flights, “quite literally lifts off,” says Tampa Review Editor Richard Mathews, and is “musical and powerful in its impact.”
Check out these three award-winning poetry books, all hitting shelves sometime this month.
At the end of the year, find Annie Kim’s Into the Cyclorama, winner of Southern Indiana Review’s 2015 Michael Waters Poetry Prize.
From back of the book:
We enter works like the 19th-century Gettysburg Cyclorama at the heart of this book, asking: What art can we make out of violence? What shape from loss? Like snow that leaves no trace in the photographed garden, Into the Cyclorama answers: Form is everything, even at its most transient.
Preparing for December, when the poetry collection will be released, readers can check out the Southern Indiana Review website where they’ll find sample poems, a link to Annie Kim’s website, and an interview with the poet conducted by Michael Collins.
If anyone needs more encouragement to subscribe to your favorite literary magazines, Rattle’s latest issue to subscribers serves as a reminder.
Included in the package for Issue 53 (which features a tribute to 22 adjunct instructors) is a complimentary copy (regularly $6.00) of the 2016 Rattle Chapbook Prize Winner: 3arabi Song by Zeina Hashem Beck.
From Rattle’s website:
3arabi Song is a song of sorrow and joy, death and dance. Yes there is unrest, war, and displacement in countries like Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Iraq, and Egypt. But there is also survival, music, and love.
Also on the website, find sample poems, including a recording of Zeina Hashem Beck performing a poem with the Fayha Choir. And while you’re there, don’t forget to subscribe to Rattle.
Steve Hodge, USA
Sidney Bending, Canada
Chase Gagnon, USA
Mohammad Azim Khan, Pakistan
Phyllis Lee, USA
All the winning entries as well as judge's comments can be read here.
The original call for submissions was: “Four centuries after William Shakespeare’s death, his name ennobles a variety of cultural institutions, from libraries and endowed chairs to summer camps and rubber duckies. Even as these structures—both lofty and lowly—rise and fall, we bear witness to the greatest power Shakespeare described: that of poetry itself to preserve without rigidity, to endure without sameness, and to inspire without dominance. Beyond the array of institutions that bear his name, what conversations do Shakespeare’s eternal lines animate now?”
"We welcomed submissions that riff on, respond to, reimagine, or recast any of Shakespeare’s works in any genre," says Eklund, "including short fiction, poetry, image/text collections, creative nonfiction, and scholarship. The response was great. We had submissions from poets, fiction writers, essayists, and scholars. We especially relished the opportunity to put creative work in direct conversation with scholarly work; few journals have the license to do that, and the result is, I think, quite exciting."
Eklund herself is a scholar of early modern literature and Associate Professor of English at Loyola University New Orleans. She has published articles and chapters in Shakespeare Studies and in essay collections on early modern literature. Her book Literature and Moral Economy in the Early Atlantic: Elegant Sufficiencies came out in 2015 with Ashgate Press, and she has a collection of essays, Groundwork: English Renaissance Literature and Soil Science, forthcoming from Duquesne University Press.
When I asked about the experience of editing this issue, Eklund responded: "The experience has helped me to focus the chatter around Shakespeare, who this year more than ever seems to be everywhere, and I hope it will have a similar effect on our readers. As we take stock of the many commemorations and celebrations of Shakespeare in 2016, the pieces in this issue help us think through the question of what we gain from Shakespeare today – what, if anything, reading or thinking about Shakespeare is good for. Some of our contributors have taken up Shakespeare's enduring themes and respun them in modern contexts. Others have used contemporary contexts to rethink some of the problems Shakespeare's work presents, particularly problems of gender and race."
Forthcoming in October is Jennifer Givhan’s Landscape with Headless Mama, winner of the Pleiades Press Editors Prize for Poetry. The collection “explores the experiences of becoming and being a mother through the lens of dark fairy tales,” and is described by Givhan as “a surreal survival guide.”
Copies are available for pre-order from the Pleiades Press website, as well as more information about Landscape with Headless Mama.
Who doesn’t appreciate a good play on words? The University of New Mexico Press has announced an anthology forthcoming in September, edited by Ilan Stavans, with a title that tickled my pun fancy.
The anthology of Jewish stories from Latin America is titled Oy, Caramba!, and put a smile on my face the moment it arrived. Even the bright, eye-catching cover mixes the Jewish and Latin American cultures: a sugar skull decorated with a hamsa, Chai symbols, and the Star of David.
First published in 1994 as Tropical Synagogues: Short Stories by Jewish-Latin American Writers, the anthology returns next month, expanded and updated.
Check out the UNM Press website for more information.
Douglass comments on the efforts of many committed individuals who have supported the publication through the years - with blood, sweat and tears, and "who work specific projects for cheap, sometimes for beer and/or Chinese food." Sounds like literary publishing as we know it. But Douglass has built quite a publishing house, producing "as many as 200 titles in a single year, but now averages between 100 and 120 titles per year, when you include our titles, this literary magazine and those we produce for others, and the books we produce as a contractor."
I'm sure there are hundreds of individuals, if not in the thousands by now, who owe some thanks to The Main Street Rag for having given them the opportunity to be published and read, and certainly in those thousands, those who have appreciated being able to read from this publishing house over the past 20 year. MSR has been a mainstay in the literary community. We congratulate them on two great decades of dedication and commitment to literary publishing, and wish them many, many more years of good work.
Other authors whose works in tribute to Barks are included: Ty Sassaman, Hugh Ruppersburg, Jody Kennedy, Ravi Shankar, John Yow, Norman Minnick, Gulnaz Saiyed, Naomi Shihab Nye, Lisa Starr, and Gordon Johnston. Several of the works, including one of Barks poems, can be read online here.
Of "Next of Kin," the judges said: "With its controlled reveal of complications, it has the drive of a mystery story—but the mystery under investigation is the intricacies of a family over time. Anne Marie Todkill is an accomplished writer, offering surprising and astute insights into the relationship between sisters. Her dialogue is sharp and she is especially incisive in writing about sex. Her narrator Marian speaks with a knowing voice, at odds with her 'small life'; the things she withholds come to the reader as a series of small explosions. Todkill imposes no pattern over events and offers her characters no epiphanies. Instead, incidents refract off each other and the story speaks powerfully through its silences. Like all good novellas, 'Next of Kin' offers both the concentrated pleasures of a short story and the scope of a novel."
Read an interview with the Anne Marie Todkill here.
"Humans don't wait for revolution or democracy in order to live their lives," says Mia Leonin...Her point underscores both the force of literature and art, and the hope found there. The impulses to generalize about certain groups, to categorize and perhaps condemn--to indulge in the quality of discourse imposed on us by many critics and politicians--find their antidote in literature. "The poems, stories, and essays in these pages," Leonin continues, "remind us that Cuba is not an idea or ideology, a photo op or a news line. Likewise, its diaspora is neither offshoot nor derivative. Whatever its temporality, literature is the present moment unfolding, and these writers carve out each moment with authenticity and vision."
Authors and artists whose works are featured: Chantel Acevedo, Alfredo Zaldivar, Ruth Behar, Lisiette Alonso, Cristina Garcia ("Berliners Who, two stories" can be read here), Orlando Ricardo Menes, Ana Menendez, Laura Ruiz Montes, Pablo Medina.
This year's winner of the Willow Springs Fiction is "Gorilla Love Story" by Chelsea Bryant. The award provides each entrant with a one-year subscription to the publication; the winner receives $2000 + publication in the annual June issue. Willow Springs offers some of their publication's content for online reading along with comments from the author about the work.
[Cover image by Marta Berens from Dream Chapter]