We began with Langston Hughes’s 1921 award-winning poem “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” and the charge to write something in response. There was something in the invitation about nature poetry and how that seemed important, but otherwise the instructions were open-ended (perhaps scarily so). We asked poets of very different styles and sensibilities, only some of whom were already engaged with Hughes’s work: F. Douglas Brown, Jericho Brown, Katie Ford, Rachel Eliza Griffiths, Derrick Harriell, Dong Li, Sandra Lim, and Michael C. Peterson. We wanted to see what each of these writers would make. In both the individual poems and the group as a whole, we weren’t disappointed; the poems ask, reach, and posit literary relationship in phenomenally different ways.
The Poetry Marathon is run (no pun intended) by Caitlin Jans (Thomson) and Jacob Jans, two writers and web publishers living in the Pacific Northwest. There is no charge to participate in the marathon, and in 2015, over 300 writers participated from nearly every continent but one (c'mon Antarctica!).
The Poetry Marathon website has an FAQ that answers the burning questions, like: How do I prepare for the Marathon? What if I can't be at a computer all day? What happens to the poems once I post them? and more. The site also features blog posts from previous participants who offer commentary on their marathon experience.
This year, the organizers plan to publish a Poetry Marathon Anthology of poems written during the marathon.
For you newbies, the August PoPo Fest goes like this: You sign up. You get a list of 31 names/addresses of other people who signed up. Starting late July, you write a poem a day on a postcard and mail it off to the next person on the list, so by the end of the month, you will have (hopefully) written and sent 31 poems and (hopefully) received 31 poems.
The poems are not supposed to be pre-written or something you've been working on for months. This is an exercise is the spontaneous, the demanding, the gut-driven, the postcard inspired - whatever it is that gets you to write once a day, each day, and send it off into the world.
New this year: poems from this year’s fest can be submitted for the 1st Poetry Postcard Fest Anthology, a project led by three volunteers.
I've done this event since it began! I don't always keep to a poem a day; sometimes I get ahead one day, or catch up another, with several poems in one day. But I try my best. The event does get me thinking of poetry in my every day, when I rarely have time for it, and writing it down - something I have time for even more rarely.
I've received poems from across the state, the country and around the globe. I've gotten postcards made from cereal boxes, some with gorgeous original artwork, and lots of the lovely tacky tourist cards from travel destinations. I have cards from "famous" poets, and some who have since become more famous, and some never signed, so I'll never know, and it hardly matters. I've gotten poetry. Sent to me directly. From strangers. Lovely, strange, absurd, and funny. Poetry.
It's an amazing event, and I hope you will take the challenge and join in this year. For the first time EVER, the organizers have decided to charge a nominal fee for the event ($10). I can only imagine the amount of work it is to run this (with up to 300 people participating), and keeping up virtual space to promote it. I'm not dissuaded by the fee, knowing the extraordinary event that it is, and knowing I've spent 100 times that on conferences from which I've gotten a great deal less inspiration...
So, please writers, wanna-bes and needs-a-kick-in-the-arsers, poetry lovers, postcard lovers - this event is for you. Join us!
“How You Like”, by Jari Chevalier [pictured], is the winning story for the inaugural Portable Stories contest theme: HUNGER. This story was performed by January LaVoy and runs 23 minutes 52 seconds.
Most of the literature presented comes from the online magazine, Words without Borders. Words Without Borders Campus is asking for your help to reach more students and add new countries and literature to their site. With their collections of literature from Mexico, China, Egypt, and Japan, WWB Campus has already reached more than 1,500 high school and college students in the United States and throughout the world, with access to their site remaining completely free.
To take their program to the next level, WWB Campus is asking its supporters -- readers, educators, and even students – for help with a new crowd-funding campaign and to spread awareness of WWB Campus. WWB Campus would like to double the number of students reached, adding new features to the website, and introducing literature from more countries (Russia, Iran, and West Africa are in the plans). For more information about how you can help, visit the WWB Campus website. You don't have to donate money - using the site and spreading the word about it helps too - #InspireGlobalReaders!
BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE
Someone told about a blind man who stood at a busy intersection, waving toward all the passing cars. When asked why he did that, he said that there might be someone in one of those cars whom he knew and he didn't want to miss the opportunity. Peter Everwine, a California poet, here gives us another such waver, from his book Listening Long and Late, from the University of Pittsburgh Press.
The Girl on the Bullard Overpass
The girl on the Bullard overpass
looks happy to be there, getting soaked
in a light rain but waving her hands
to the four o'clock freeway traffic
in which I'm anything but happy.
You might think she's too dumb
to come in out of the rain, but rain
or shine, it doesn't seem to matter.
She's there most every afternoon,
as if she does this for a living.
Some living, I'd say. Doesn't she ever
get bored, or wish someone would stop
and say, "Where to?" and her life would change?
That's how I'd be, hating the noise,
the stink of exhaust, the press of people.
I can't imagine what her life is;
mine is confused and often fretful.
But there's something brave about standing alone
in the rain, waving wild semaphores
of gladness to impatient passersby
too tired or preoccupied to care.
Seeing her at her familiar station
I suddenly grin like a fool, wave back,
and forgive the driver to my right,
who is sullen and staring as I pass.
I find her in my rear-view mirror,
then head for a needed drink and supper.
I don't know where she goes, but I hope
it's to a place she loves. I hope the rain
lets up. I hope she's there tomorrow.
American Life In Poetry does 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 ©2004 by Peter Everwine, “The Girl on the Bullard Overpass,” from Listening Long and Late (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2013). Poem reprinted by permission of Peter Everwine 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.
First place: Taiyaba Husain [pictured], of Mumbai, India, wins $3000 for “How You Respond in an Emergency." Her story will be published in Issue 99 or 100 of Glimmer Train Stories. This is Taiyaba's very first published story!
Second place: Edward Porter, of Oakland, CA, wins $1000 for “Storm Dogs” and publication in a future issue of Glimmer Train Stories.
Third place: Anne Vinsel, of Salt Lake City, UT, wins $600 for “Goyische Turkey with Post-its.”
A PDF of the Top 25 winners can be found here.
Deadline soon approaching!
Short Story Award for New Writers: June 30
This competition is held quarterly and is open to all writers whose fiction has not appeared in a print publication with a circulation over 5000. No theme restrictions. Most submissions to this category run 1500-5000 words, but can go up to 12,000. First place prize wins $2500 (increased from $1500!) and publication in Glimmer Train Stories. Second/third: $500/$300 and consideration for publication. Click here for complete guidelines.
The Louisville Review accepts submissions from students in grades K-12 to feature in “The Children’s Corner” section of the journal. In the Spring 2016 issue, four young writers were published:
Kate Busatto, “The Communion”
Kiran Damodaran, “Collision Theory”
Andrew D. Swann, “Jelly Dreams,” “God Didn’t Make the World Round,” and “Worn and Broken”
Isabel Young, “Our Romance is Kamikaze:”
Get a copy of The Louisville Review to check out these new writers.
The June 2016 issue of Poetry features cover art by Anna Maria Maiolino. On Harriet: The Blog, Fred Sasaki provides more information about this artist who, it turns out, also creates visual and written poetry with all her works considered to be “poetic actions.”
Maiolino speaks about her series Photopoemaction, from which the June 2016 cover art comes:
"The photographic series Fotopoemação is a result of the elaboration of images that emerged from my written poems. [ . . . ] These series, other than constituting a challenge to the poetic labour, are efficient instruments of both innovation and freedom. They result from thinking about the things of the world, from the attempt to transform what we live through into consciousness in a poetic operational movement of conduct."
Among the blue-font decorated pages of the latest issue of Ninth Letter, readers will find an art feature and interview with Bert Stabler and Katie Fizdale, a look at Detroit by Caitlin McGuire in the “Where We’re At” section, and the 2015 Literary Award Runners-Up, listed below.
Julie Marie Wade, “The Regulars”
Zach VandeZande, “Status Updates”
Monica Sok, “Here Is Your Name”
Rachael Katz, “All About Flash”
The 2016 issue of RHINO is out and includes the 2016 Editors’ Prize winners and the 2016 Founders’ Prize winners inside.
Editors’ Prizes 2016:
Lee Sharkey, “Tashlich”
Catherine Wing, “Report from the Neandertal Mind”
Teresa Dzieglewicz, “Stranger, thank you for giving me this body”
Anonymous translated from the Anglo-Saxson by Bill Christopherson, “The Seafarer”
Founders’ Prize 2016:
Greg Grummer, “The Great Butterfly Collapse”
Katie Hartsock, “On the Heat of Upstate Travel in the Advancing Polar Air”
Teresa Dzieglewicz, “St. Maria Goretti speaks to the girl”
Readers can find these poems on the RHINO website, with a full table of contents linking to the writers’ websites.
The Spring/Summer 2016 issue of december features the winner and finalists of the Jeff Marks Memorial Poetry Prize (with submissions opening back up in autumn). This year, the magazine received over 1,200 contest entries, which were then narrowed down to 20 semi-finalists. From these selections, judge Marge Piercy selected the following for the winner, honorable mentions, and finalists.
Jim Dwyer, “Enlightenment”
Kate Gray, “Reassurance” and “For Every Girl”
José Angel Araguz, “Cazar Means to Hunt Not to Marry”
Debbie Benson, “Uchi Vallai”
Kierstin Bridger, “Preparing to Sink”
Tova Green, “March Storm at Abbots Lagoon”
John McCarthy, “What I mean When I Say I Don’t Box Anymore”
M.H. Perry, “Cardamom, Osprey, Banff, Us”
Cocoa M. Williams, “Leda on a Stoop in St. Bernard Projects (1974)”
Grab a copy of december’s Spring/Summer 2016 issue to read these poems.
Happy anniversary, Concho River Review. We hope to see you around for many more years (and pages).
Belt Publishing, publisher of city-based anthologies written by and for Rust Belt communities, are releasing a new anthology in the first week of July: Happy Anyway: The Flint Anthology. Edited by Flint writer and Belt Magazine contributor Scott Atkinson, Happy Anyway reveals Flint “at its funniest, its weirdest, and its saddest.”
There’s more to Flint than the water crisis that’s gathered the country’s attention in the past months. Preorder a copy of Happy Anyway to see all sides of this Michigan city, or check out the other anthologies which look at Detroit, Pittsburgh, Youngstown, Cincinnati, and Cleveland, with Akron and Buffalo anthologies in the making.
FICTION: Joe Dornich in Lubbock, TX for "The Reluctant Son of a Fake Hero"
POETRY: Moira Thielking in Katonah, NY for "Pirating (Salt Enough)"
NONFICTION: Kerry Muir in Annapolis, Maryland for "Martin"
A full list of semi-finalists and finalists can be found here.
The fifth volume of this annual anthology features the theme “Serenity and Severity.” The twenty-nine included writers explore the theme, the duality impacting identities, lifestyles, outlooks, worldviews, and values. Contributors include Rebecca Aronson, Heidi E. Blankenship, William Cass, David Lavar Coy, Gail Denham, John Haggerty, Ellaraine Lockie, Juan J. Morales, Scott T. Starbuck, and more.
Preorder a copy of Gesell Dome now at the Open Letter website, where you can also find an excerpt of the novel.
Teachers: The Common in the Classroom provides a way to introduce your students to global literature. Students recieve a discounted subscription price (2 issues) and you recieve a desk copy and sample lesson plans along with an in-person or Skype visit from Editor in Chief Jennifer Acker, or one of the publications participating authors.
The Spring 2016 issue of The Missouri Review is titled “Wonders and Relics” and some of the wonders readers can find in the issue include the winners of the 2015 Jeffrey E. Smith Editor’s Prize.
Emma Törzs, “The Wall”
Phillip B. Williams, Four Poems
Genese Grill, "Portals: Cabinets of Curiosity, Reliquaries, and Colonialism"
Excerpts from the winning pieces and a foreword by the magazine’s editor, Speer Morgan, can be found on The Missouri Review website.
Image: Slab City desert, part of a collaborative project with photographer Aaron Huey for the forthcoming book Shelter. The home Canilao built also doubled as a set for a short film called Bring Water, in which she played a role.
The Spring 2016 issue of The Fiddlehead features the winners of their 25th annual literary competition:
Ralph Gustafson Prize for Best Poem
Michael Eden Reynolds, "False Dichotomy or Monocot"
Alison Goodwin, "Consumed"
Jeff Parent, "Made By Robots"
Short Fiction First Prize:
Brent van Staalduinen, "Skinks"
Sarah L. Taggart, "The Way It Is In A Place Like This"
Cathy Kozak, "Dirty Girls of Paradise"
These works can be read on The Fiddlehead website along with commentary from Editor Ross Leckie on the winning entries.
Rattle editors write, "Los Angeles is our home city, but we’re an international magazine and not especially sociable, so we wanted to peek in and see what’s happening in the local scene. Greater Los Angeles is home to almost 20 million people, including a very eclectic but widely dispersed poetry community: Take your pick of the many poetry readings and open mics happening daily—but good luck driving there! It’s also a city full of complicated history and cinematic beauty. As always, we put out an open call for submissions, and were impressed with what Angeleno poets had to offer, including a love poem for Los Angeles by L.A. Poet Laureate Luis J. Rodriguez."
Other Angelenos featured inclue: Resa Alboher, Allan Aquino, Chanel Brenner, Brendan Constantine, Jack Cooper, Alejandro Escudé, Alexis Rhone Fancher, Alan Fox, Jack Grapes, Ron Koertge, Deborah P. Kolodji, Lester Graves Lennon, Ruth Madievsky, Risa Potters, Raquel Reyes-Lopez, Lynne Thompson, Amy Uyematsu, Charles Harper Webb, Mari Werner, and Cecelia Woloch.
Like many who respond to this man-made disaster, Freedman points the blame directly as it should be: "The real impurity, then, extends from the polluted water to the polluted political system that allowed emergency managers to run cities without being answerable to them, to the cover-their-ass bureaucracy, to the governor who reverses Harry Truman's credo by whining that the buck stops everywhere but his desk. The real impurity is the stupidity, selfishness and racism that is structural to the politcal system in this and far too many states."
Included in the issue is "Flint and Beyond," a special section on the Flint water crisis: Flint native Kelsey Ronan explores the effect on her family in "Blood and Water," Tarfia Faizullah dedicates her poem “I Told the Water” to Flint, fiction by Matthew Baker, "Pheasants of Detroit," and Jack Driscoll, "Calcheck and Priest" look at life in Michigan today.
Readers can preorder copies of Antiquity from the Sarabande Books website, where advance praise can also be found.