Chicken God by Alexander Grigoriev - you simply can't look away from this cover of Pembroke Magazine (#51).
American Life in Poetry: Column 732
BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE
Ezra Pound commanded America's poets to "Make it new." And here's a good example. Has there ever been another poem written, and written beautifully, about children playing among laundry drying on a line? Thomas Reiter, who lives in New Jersey, is a poet whose work I've followed for many years. His most recent book is Catchment. This poem appeared in the Tampa Review.
Pinned in Place
A bed sheet hung out to dry
became a screen for shadow animals.
But of all laundry days in the neighborhood
the windy ones were best,
the clothespins like little men riding
lines that tried to buck them off.
One at a time we ran down the aisles
between snapping sheets
that wanted to put us in our place.
Timing them, you faked and cut
like famous halfbacks. But if a sheet
tagged you it put you down, pinned
by the whiteness floating
against a sky washed by the bluing
our mothers added to the wash water.
Could anyone make it through those days
untouched? You waited for
your chance, then jumped up and finished
the course, rising if you fell again.
Later, let the sky darken suddenly
and we'd be sent out to empty the lines.
All up and down the block, kids
running with bed sheets in their arms,
running like firemen rescuing children.
All night those sheets lay draped
over furniture, as though we were leaving
and would not return for a long time.
We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts. 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 ©2018 by Thomas Reiter, "Pinned in Place," from Tampa Review (No. 55/56, 2018). Poem reprinted by permission of Thomas Reiter and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2019 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 50th Anniversary Spring 2019 issue of Ruminate features the winning entries of their 2019 Kalos Visual Art Prize, as selected by Final Juror Betty Spackman:
"Seen and Unseen" by Jennifer Cronin [pictured]
"If I Were a King" by Margie Criner
"The Lilies How they Grow" by Emily McIlroy
"EBB" by Hanna Vogel
For a full list of finalists as well as juror's comments on the winners, click here.
Featured from Willow Springs 83 are four poems by Maggie Smith (an interview with her is included in the print publication), "The Collector" by Suzanne Highland, "The Year We Lived" by Breanna Lemieux, and "Bless the Feral Hog" by Laura Van Prooyen.
With each feature, the author offers notes on the work as well as whatever random musings they might want to include under the fun title "Music, Food, Booze, Tattoos, Kittens. etc.."
In her responses, Suzanne Highland [pictured] shares, "I have two tattoos: one says 'in medias res and the other says '(write it!).' I’m wildly attached to both, but one would have to be to get tattoos like those in the first place, I think."
"Etymology of a Mood" by Ama Codjoe won The Georgia Review's 2018 Lorain Willams Poetry Prize, chosen by Natasha Trethewey.
The prize was started in 2013 with a gift from Lorain Williams and continued with the support of her estate after her passing in April 2016.
This year's contest, which runs from April 1 - May 15, will be judged by Stephen Dunn. The prize has also been increased from $1000 to $1500.
See full details here.
Reflecting on Ruminate's 50th Anniversary issue, Editor Brianna VanDyke writes that when Thích Nhất Hạnh was asked, "Is there a purpose for wearing the robe other than to clothe your body?" He replied, "To remind yourself that you are a monk."
"I wonder," VanDyke goes on, "if one day you or I might also be asked a question about reminding ourselves of who we are."
She goes on to explore what those 'reminders of self' might be, adding, "something about this dream I hold, that these pages continue to be a reminder for fifty more good issues, how the very best stories and art and poems remind us of who we are, why we matter, our longings, our deepest work this day."
In January, Anhinga Press released the winner of their 2017 Philip Levine Prize for Poetry: Known by Salt by Tina Mozelle Braziel.
The annual prize awards $2000 to the winner, as well as publication and distribution of their winning manuscript. Submissions open in July.
Known by Salt was selected by C.G. Hanzlicek who says the collection: “is very much a book of celebrations. One arc of the book is the move from a life in a trailer park to a house that Tina and her husband build with their own hands, [ . . . ]. It also is a celebration of Alabama, [ . . . ]. Her observations are so keen [ . . . ] that they make me laugh out loud in my own celebration.”
Learn more at the publisher’s website, where you can also find a sample poem from the collection, “House Warming.”
The newest issue of Black Warrior Review (Spring/Summer 2019) features winners of their 2018 contest:
Judged by Jennifer S. Cheng
Winner: “from Okazaki Fragments” by Kanika Agrawal
Runner-up: “Let’s eat baby the steak is getting cold” by Alice Maglio
Judged by Kate Zambreno
Winner: "Social Body" by Amanda Kallis
Runner-up: "Dark Grove, Shinng" by J’Lyn Chapman
Judged by Laura van den Berg
Winner: "Little Jamaica" by Ndinda Kioko [pictured]
Runner-up: "On Weather" by RE Katz
Judged by Vanessa Angélica Villarreal
Winner: “La Piedra de los Doce Ángulos" by David Joez Villaverde
Runner-up: “from Okazaki Fragments” by Kanika Agrawal
See judges' commentary on their selections and a complete list of finalists here.
Bright colors to welcome spring caught my eye this week, starting with the 2018 annual of Rathalla Review, just released this March 2019.
“Style Central” by Leah Dockrill, collage on canvas, is the featured image for the newest online Mud Season Review poetry issue.
Editorial insights abound at the Colorado State University Center for Literary Publishing Editor's Blog. Home of the Colorado Review as well as several esteemed annual literary prizes, Center Director Stephanie G'Schwind has both breadth and depth in her staff contributors.
Recent posts include:
“Looking toward Spring with Place-Based Writing” by Editorial Assistant Jennifer Anderson
“Revisiting the Holocaust Metaphors of Sylvia Plath” by Editorial Assistant Leila Einhorn
“Procedures for the Slowpoke Poet” by Associate Editor Susannah Lodge-Rigal
“On Love Poetry” by Associate Editor Daniel Schonning
The blog also features links to monthly podcasts: February 2019 Podcast: Writing on Mental Health with Margaret Browne; January 2019 Podcast: Horror Poetry with Emma Hyche; and more.
Check it out here.
If your interest is in the outdoors as well as the arts, something fresh and new, The Boardman Review is an excellent choice. Subtitled “the creative culture & outdoor lifestyle journal of northern Michigan,” this print and digital journal includes literature, music, lifestyle profiles, and documentaries that focus on the work and lives of creative people who express their love of the outdoors without trying to promote their talent. This last issue of 2018 provides a promise of even more fascinating work during the coming year.
This month, find Luxury, Blue Lace by S. Brook Corfman at Autumn House Press. Winner of the 2018 Rising Writer Contest, judge Richard Siken notes how Corfman “examines the ways that presentation and representation conflate and complicate. Expansive, generous, deeply considered, and highly lyric, this book, with its transformations and overlaps, astounds.”
Learn what others have to say about Luxury, Blue Lace as you pick up a copy at Autumn House Press’s website.
As I write now, during the middle days of February, hard upon our Spring 2019 deadline, the dice are still not fully cast for my successor or my exact departure date - and so I will be brief again: the earliest I would step away is 1 June, at which time our Summer 2019 issue will literally be in press and the preparation of the Fall 2019 contents will be in full swing, so my ghost will be around for at least some aspects of the latter. The goal for me, for the rest of the Georgia Review staff, and for the University of Georgia, is a transition that will be as smooth as possible for our submitters, contributors, and readers.
I will close with a few words (because I have been asked for them) about the why of my departure from the place of employment to which I have given more than half of my life, and which I have served through almost (just one year shy of) half of the journal's life. I've been pondering and preparing for a couple of years, with no pressure from anyone other than myself. I'm seventy, I'm healthy, I have several books of my own writing to finish and begin - and I haven't even toured Great Britain yet, that realm so vital from early days to my being drawn into this literature/reading/writing/editing life.
To be continued...
Write Prize for Fiction
Final Judge: Bret Lott
Winner: “Vigil” by Anthony J. Otte
Runner-up: "A Man of Fewer Words" by Claudette E. Sutton
Write Prize for Poetry
Final Judge: J. Allyn Rosser
Winner: “Wildfire” by Lynn Marie Houston [pictured]
Runner-up: “Moorings” by D. R. Goodman
Finalist: "A Cormorant in Yangshuo" by Gabriel Spera
Shortlist poetry included in the publication:
"Zheduo Pass, Sichuan Province" by David Allen Sullivan
"Connecticut, After Dark" by Ann Thompson
"Memento Mori" by Melissa Cannon
"Somerset, 1972" by Rob Wright
For a full list of finalists and for information about the 2019 contest (deadline extended), click here.
In honor of W.S. Merwin, Kenyon Review Poetry Editor David Baker writes, "No contemporary poet’s work has meant more to me than W. S. Merwin’s. We first met in 1979, when I was a twenty-four-year-old high school English teacher in Jefferson City, Missouri; we played pool at Dave’s Bar in Kansas City one night, and he told me I shouldn’t go do my PhD but stay out of academia and write."
Read the rest of Baker's comments here along with Merwin's works published in KR and a link to video interview with KR editor David Lynn and David Baker upon Merwin's accepting the Kenyon Review Award for Literary Achievement in 2010.
There was a lot going on at the end of 2018, so maybe you missed out on some of the award-winning books published toward the tail end of the year. Don’t worry—we’ve got you covered.
October saw the publication of Earthly Delights and Other Apocalypses by Jen Julian, winner of the 2018 Press 53 Award for Short Fiction. Judge Kevin Morgan Watson says the stories “range from straight-ahead fiction to sci-fi or dystopian, all with a strong sense of place with well-developed characters whose challenges draw the reader in.” Order copies and learn more at the Press 53 website.
In November, BkMk Press published Sweet Herbaceous Miracle by Berwyn Moore, winner of the John Ciardi Prize for Poetry. Selected by Enid Shomer, Moore’s third collection of poetry arrives “like good news, like spring flowers from the garden,” according to advance praise from George Bilgere. Find out more at the publisher’s website.
BkMk Press also released When We Were Someone Else by Rachel Groves, winner of the G. S. Sharat Chandra Prize for Short Fiction, selected by Hilma Wolitzer. Quirky characters in unlivable spaces occupy the stories in this collection. On the press’s website, find advance praise and links to reviews to learn more.
Another title out in November: The Good Echo by Shena McAuliffe, winner of the Black Lawrence Press 2017 Big Moose Prize. Readers can find an excerpt of the novel at the publisher’s website when they order their copies.
Wrapping up the month of November is UNMANNED by Jessica Rae Bergamino, winner of the 2017 Noemi Press Poetry Prize (with submissions currently open until May 1). UNMANNED features persona poems from the perspective of two Voyager Space probes as queer femmes exploring space. See what readers thought of the collection as you order your copies.
Glimmer Train March 2019 Bulletin offers an interesting selection of craft essays, each just at a tipping point of controversy.
"Words, and Barry Hannah, the Guy Who Taught Me to Love Them" by Marian Palaia shares how Hannah's voice and vernacular influenced her early on, although now she comments, "if Barry were writing the same stuff now, I can't imagine how he'd get away with it."
Devin Murphy's "We All Do It! Don't We? The Art of Reading Like a Thief" examines the fine line of "Did I plagiarize the novel I'd read?" He comments on his own teaching and trying to help student writers "understand the value of actively reading for material that will help them deepen their own stories."
"What interests me about politics in fiction," writes Siamak Vossoughi [pictured], "is how it informs the lives of characters." In his essay, 'The Political Lives of Characters," he asserts, "A writer only runs the risk of being preachy or dogmatic if he or she makes a character of one political belief less three-dimensional and human than that of another."
Pleaides Press annually hosts the Lena-Miles Wever Todd Prize, the winning writer receiving $3000 with the winning collection published by the press and distributed by Louisiana State University Press. Readers can find the winner of the 2018 prize published last month: dark // thing by Ashley M. Jones.
From the publisher’s website: “dark // thing is a multi-faceted work that explores the darkness/otherness by which the world sees Black people. Ashley M. Jones stares directly into the face of the racism that allows people to be seen as dark things, as objects that can be killed/enslaved/oppressed/devalued.”
Jones challenges form with more experimental pieces worked in throughout the collection, and if readers still want more of Jones's award-winning work after checking out dark // thing, they can find her debut collection Magic City Gospel at Hub City Press which won silver in poetry from the Independent Publisher’s Book Awards.
The 2019 issue is a 48-page chapbook of work by twenty poets age fifteen or under, but don't let the age line fool you. Rattle editors write that this "is not a collection just for kids—these are missives to adults from the next generation, confronting big topics with fresh eyes and a child-like spontaneity."
Contributors include Lucia Baca, Angélica Borrego, Olivia Bourke, April Chukwueke, Lexi Duarte, Josephina Green, C.A. Harper, Lily Hicks, Angelique Jean Lindberg, Rylee McNiff, Ethan Paulk, Lydia Phelps, McKenzie Renfrew, Ellie Shumaker, Emmy Song, Rowan Stephenson, Saoirse Stice, Zachary Tsokos, Layla Varty, and Simon Zuckert, with cover art by Noralyn Lucero.
Submission deadline for the next issue is October 15, 2019.
Scholastic News Kids Press Corps, a team of Kid Reporters from across the country and around the world that covers “news for kids, by kids” is taking applications. Students ages 10–14 with a passion for telling great stories and discussing issues that matter most to kids are encouraged to apply for the 2019–2020 school year. All applications must be received by May 31, 2019.
Kid Reporters gain valuable writing and critical-thinking skills in addition to hands-on journalism experience through their work covering local and national current events, and interviewing news-makers. Their stories are published online at the Scholastic News Kids Press Corps website, as well as in issues of Scholastic Classroom Magazines, which reach more than 25 million students in the United States.
Past Kid Reporters have interviewed notable figures, including:
• Anderson Cooper, CNN news anchor
• Marian Wright Edelman, President and Founder of the Children’s Defense Fund
• Dav Pilkey, creator of the best-selling Dog Man and Captain Underpants series
• Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
• James Corden, host of the Late Late Show on CBS
[From Royivia Ferguson, Publicist, Corporate Communications at Scholastic]
Of course, there's the iconic poster, this year featuring artwork by Julia Wang, a high school student from San Jose California, who won the inaugural poster contest. You can download the poster as well as order a free paper copy while supplies last.
April 18 is Poem in Your Pocket Day - carry around a poem (or two or three) in your pocket to share by reading to people throughout the day. The Academy offers a selection of pocket-sized poems to download and carry.
Dear Poet is a multimedia education project for youth in grades five through twelve who can write letters in response to poems they read. Teachers are provided a full curriculum which aligns with Common Core.
In addition to all of this, Poets.org has a full page of programming resources for teachers, readers, writers, students, and librarians. That pretty much means for all of us! So check it out and get geared up!
The cover photo, "A Couch with a View," by Dallas Crow on the Fall 2018 issue of Cimarron Review is both subtle and inviting.
Winners of The MacGuffin's 23rd Poet Hunt Contest along with commentary from guest judge Alberto Álvaro Ríos are featured in the Winter 2019 issue.
"Ed" by Matthew Spireng [pictured]
"Venetian Passageway" by Judith Rosenberg
This annual contest awards $500 and publication for first place and publication for up to two honorable mentions.
The Art of Protest: Art and Scholarship as Political Resistance is the theme for the 2019 Mayapple & Sarah Lawrence Summer Workshop, June 13-22 in Bronxville, New York.
Mayapple Center for the Arts and Humanities will host workshops focused on participants choice of activist art, and the daily schedule will include restorative and affirmative yoga and mediation practices in nature.
- Engaging Civically through Collaborative Art: Developing a Working Aesthetics of Protest Art with Michelle Slater
- Staging the Revolution: Protest, Performance, and Social Change with Dana Edell
- Writing and Exploring Songs that Matter to Us and the World with Dar Williams
- Writing and Social Action: The Power of the Personal Voice in a Polical World with Brian Morton
- Ekphrastic Politics with Mahogany L. Brown [pictured]
- Art and Activism: Creative Collaborations in the Public Sphere with David Birkin
Enrollment is limited and applicants must provide an explanation of their interest as well as a sample of their work. Some financial assistance is avaialable.