BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE
Peter Schmitt is a Floridian, and the following poem is from his book, Renewing the Vows, published by David Robert Books. Poetry seems to be the perfect medium for brief anecdotal stories, but most of us have higher expectations of a poem, believing it should reach beneath the surface and draw up something from the deeper parts of experience. This is just such a poem.
It's all like a bad riddle, our widow friend
said at the time. If a tree falls in the woods
and kills your husband, what can you build from it?
That she was speaking quite literally
we did not know until the day months later
the bench arrived, filling that foyer space
in the house the neighbors pitched in to finish.
She'd done it, she said, for the sake of the boys,
and was never more sure of her purpose
than when they were off, playing in the woods
their father loved, somewhere out of earshot
and she would be struggling in with groceries.
For her, it was mostly a place to rest
such a weight, where other arms might have reached
to lift what they could. Or like the time we knocked
at her door, and finding it just ajar,
cautiously entered the sunstruck hallway,
and saw her sitting there staring into space,
before she heard our steps and caught herself,
turning smiling toward us, a book left
lying open on the bench beside her.
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 ©2007 by Peter Schmitt, "The Bench," from Renewing the Vows (David Robert Books, 2007). Poem reprinted by permission of Peter Schmitt and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2018 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.
Driftwood Press is kicking off their new Seminar Series with a five-week online Erasure Poetry Seminar lead by Jerrod Schwarz [pictured], instructor of creative writing at the University of Tampa. The seminar covers the history, practice, and importance of erasure poetry. The format is weekly video, writing prompts with feedback, a class-only Facebook group and YouTube channel. The course fee includes a copy of A Little White Shadow by Mary Ruefle. Students will contribute to a Showcase Booklet which will be made available for free on Driftwood’s website and via their social media outlets.
Writers interested in attending the seminar must apply with writing sample and statement of interest no later than October 31. After selection, the course will run from November 12 - December 14.
The Fiddlehead Summer 2018 poetry issue features, appropriately, "Waning Summer Light, 2017," oil on canvas by Sonya Mahnic.
Which transitions nicely to the Fall 2018 cover of Copper Nickel, with Milk & Honey pigment print on 100% rag paper by Kristen Hatgi Sink. Inside, this issue features fourteen poets from Ireland and the UK.
Writing Immigrant Stories by May-lee Chai [pictured]: "For American authors writing about a multicultural, globalized world, the issue of translation is unavoidable: what to put into English, what to leave in a mother tongue, and how to render the mixed-English that often is used in immigrant families."
Novel and Story by William Luvaas: "For years, the novel was dominant, with its loud, broad-shouldered personality. Novel was so self-assured—something of a bully, really—while Story scurried about, mouse-like under the furniture, speaking in a whisper, fearing Novel would step on it. Then something unexpected happened."
Tobias Wolff (from an interview by Travis Holland): "So when I would read a great story of Ray Carver's, like 'Errand' or 'Cathedral,' my thought would be, 'I want to write this well.' Not write like him, because I knew I couldn't. That was his world, his voice, all that."
This and all previous bulletins are archived here.
"Literature is not efficient," writes New England Review Editor Carolyn Kuebler in the Editor's Note to V39 N3. "Reading it, writing it, and publishing it all require a seemingly unreasonable investment in time. Journals like ours take part in this economy of inefficiency by keeping our doors open to writing from everyone, everywhere." She goes on to discuss the weight placed on editors to make selections from thousands of unsolicited submissions, which open publications with good reputations face.
"Because of this openness to new writing, we have to say 'no' far more often than we say 'yes,' which can give writers a kind of 'who do they think they are' feeling of resentment. It also sets literary editors up as gatekeepers, as if reading and evaluating manuscripts were in some way equivalent to being a bouncer at an exclusive nightclub or a troll under the bridge. To me, the problem with the image of a gatekeeper is that it implies that the lit mag is some steadfast entity that simply exists, and that editors are only blocking the way to it. But without the efforts of those same people who are reading the manuscripts, there would be no there there."
Instead, Kuebler entreats readers (and writers) to consider "lit mags and their staff of editors and readers in terms of service," with many of those working behind the scenes doing so for little or no pay, and putting "aside their own agendas and literary preferences, and often their own writing, in service of another’s."
I get it. I hope others do, too. Thanks Carolyn - and countless other editors, readers, and all of those who give selflessly in the service of literature to make these publications 'there.'
The Fall 2018 issue of Raleigh Review features the winners of the 2018 Dorriane Laux / Joseph Millar Poetry Prize:
"Forever Daylight" by John Sibley Williams [pictured]
"Four Sonnets" Bailey Cohen [2nd]
"Lightning Flowers" Emily Mohn-Slate [3rd]
"Other women don't tell you" by Julia Dasbach
"Keloid Scar" by Julia Dasbach [not published]
"Sometimes I Pretend the Daughter I Wanted Was Born Alive" by Chelsea Dingman
"After You Have Gone" by Chelsea Dingman
The prize will open again April 1, 2019 and close May 31, 2019. The winner receives $500 and publication, finalists receive $10 and publication, honorable mentions will be considered for publication and payment. All entrants receive the Fall issue.
Main Street Rag accepts submissions to the Kakalak anthology each year, publishing poetry and art by or about the Carolinas. Submissions are selected through an annual contest, opening in January and running through May.
The 2018 edition will be released this upcoming December, featuring the poetry and art award winners and honorable mentions.
2018 Poetry Award Winners:
1st place: Derek Berry
2nd place: Betsy Thorne
3rd place: Anne Waters Green
Honorable mentions include Jane Seitel, Beverly C. Finney, Suzanna L. Cockerille, and Kathy Nelson.
2108 Art Award Winners:
1st place: Jeanette Brossart
2nd place: Cheryl Boyer
3rd place: Ashley Jolicoeur
Honorable mentions include Jack McGregor and Joyce Compton Brown.
If you pre-order now, you can save a few dollars (to spend on some of the other great Main Street Rag titles perhaps).
The Gettysburg Review Summer 2018 features artwork by William Fisk on the cover and inside with a full-color portfolio. The oil on canvas subjects come from "machines and other seemingly permanent objects of modern and post-modern industrial culture."
Rattle poetry magazine issue 61 features "Looking into the Future," a digital montage by Thomas Terceira. This work was created "by scanning Victorian engravings and combining and colorizing them in Photoshop. It is part of a series inspired by Max Ernst's surrealistic collages." See more of Terceira's work here.
Featuring fiction, nonfiction, poetry, art, photography, cross-genre, and reviews, Lime Hawk 12 cover art is Caotiche Comprensioni by Paolo Di Rosa. See more of his work here, where "the central theme running throughout his work is the human figure immersed in a non-place, externalising dreamlike and introspective projections; setting the stage for an intimate dialogue between feeling and reality."
Ruminate Fall 2018 (#48) features the 2018 William Van Dyke Short Story Prize recipients, as selected by judge Susan Woodring:
"Coda" by Jason Villemez [pictured]
"Terra Incognita" by Laura O'Gorman Schwartz
"The Pistachio Farmer's Daughter" by Heather M. Surls
The next submission deadline for the short story contest is February 15, 2019. The contest is open to stories 5500 words or less with no limit on the number of entries (one per fee). The winner receives $1500 and publication; $200 and publication for the runner-up.
There's something just quintessentially summer about the Cut Bank 88 cover, with artwork by David Miles Lusk, "Beach Snack." Indeed!
The Main Street Rag Summer 2018 cover continues the summer theme - at least for us here in Michigan, motorcycles are not year-round. Photo by Editor M. Scott Douglass.
And, perhaps a farewell to summer, this beautiful photograph on the cover of the summer 2018 issue of Able Muse: A Review of Poetry, Prose & Art, "Young Dragon's Flight" by Anja Osenberg, is just one of the works for this issue's featured art, "A Flight Theme."
The Fall 2018 Still Point Arts Quarterly is a special issue titled "Four Freedoms Reinterpreted." Editor Christine Brooks Cote writes in her introduction that the concept was inspired by Franklin Roosevelt's 1941 speech in which he specifically identified freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. She explains:
"Two years later The Saturday Evening Post published four paintings by Norman Rockwell, each devoted to one of the Four Freedoms. There were accompanying essays written by respected writers of the day. Now seventy-five years later, it seems appropriate to revisit these 'essential' freedoms and think about where we stand today. . . This special issue is filled with art and writing from people who have something to say about freedom. It is both a celebration of who we are as a country and a cry for attention to the ways in which the foundations of our country are threatened. I hope you will be moved by this outpouring of love for our country and concern for our future."
Readers can view a generous sample of the publication here.
I can't look a the cover of the September 2018 issue of Poetry Magazine without the intro riff to "All Along the Watchtower" by Jimi Hendrix cuing up in my head. Sweetly enough, the inside front cover features a tribute quote from Donald Hall (1928-2018): "The world is everything and that is the case. / Now stop your blubbering and wash your face." (Poetry, February 1979)
Keeping with colors, I love how Issue 20 of True Story: 6'3" Man with Doritos by Matthew Clark is actually the color the cheesy Doritos dust leaves stuck to your fingers long after eating them (illustration by Lucy Engelman). So, no problem munching on a bag while you read this issue!
The Missouri Review Summer 2018 cover features the unique photography of Libby Oliver from the Soft Shells series. Visit her website, and check out the Sidewalk Series - slightly disturbing but mostly funny as hell.
BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE
David Mason is the former poet laureate of Colorado and a professor of literature and writing at Colorado College. His most recent book is The Sound: New and Selected Poems, from Red Hen press. I very much like the way in which the muddy boots both open and close this poem, in which not one but two biographies are offered to us in less than a hundred words.
The Mud Room
His muddy rubber boots
stood in the farmhouse mud room
while he sat in the kitchen,
unshaven, dealing solitaire.
His wife (we called her Auntie)
rolled out dough in the kitchen
for a pie, put up preserves
and tidied, clearing her throat.
They listened to the TV
at six, he with his fingers
fumbling the hearing aids,
she watching the kitchen clock.
Old age went on like that,
a vegetable patch, a horse
some neighbor kept in the barn,
the miles of grass and fences.
After he died his boots
stood muddy in the mud room
as if he'd gone in socks,
softly out to the meadow.
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 ©2017 by David Mason, "The Mud Room." Poem reprinted by permission of David Mason. Introduction copyright ©2018 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.
Edify Fiction is seeking submissions for two upcoming themed issues. For the December 2018 issue, they are accepting pieces surrounding the topics of Christmas, holiday, and winter. Their January 2019 issue looks at all things teen - from teen writers to bullying, peer pressure, emotions, first love, best friends - and more.
When I asked Edify Fiction Editor Angela Meek [pictured] about the teen-themed CFS, she replied, “I was inspired recently to make a themed issue about teen concerns because of a story we recently accepted that incorporated the author's own experiences as a teen and how those challenges shaped him. As a mom with a teen who is starting to stretch those wings and find her way in the world, I thought it would be a good time to have a dedicated issue.”
The call is a broad one, and Meek says they want it that way: “We're pretty open as long as it is has a teen flavor to it - growing up, relationships, bullying, sports, siblings, dealing with parents, dealing with living in a divorced family, acceptance, school - you name it. As long as it is related to teens in some manner, any topic is welcomed. We also would love to feature as many teen writers as possible - from never-been-published to those writers who know their way around the writing world.”
For more information, check out Edify Fiction on Facebook and Twitter. Their general submissions guidelines can be found here, which apply for the themed issues as well. Deadline for both these themed issues is October 31, 2018.
CutBank 88 features the winner and runners up of their annual Big Sky, Small Prose Flash Contest, as selected by Judge Zach VandeZande:
1st Place Winner
"Water" by Allie Mariano [pictured]
Read more about Allie Mariano and the judge's comments here.
"A Posture of Grace" by Kim McCrea
"Holding His Fire" by Daryl Scroggins
Big Sky, Small Prose: Flash Contest 2018 is open until September 30. Read the full details here.
Wordrunner eChapbooks publishes an annual themed anthology, taking submissions just prior to publication, but also then publishes two e-chapbooks of fiction each year. While they have a submission fee, they are also a paying market (with a better return than I've been getting for playing the lottery lately). "Our aim is to make high quality writing available free or at very low cost, much like the original chapbooks that were hawked in the streets of 18th and 19th century London for pennies," the editors note. Yet web publishing opens up all kinds of new options for digital-aged readers: "In many issues, hyperlinks to photos, videos, background articles, maps, poetry, and artwork add new dimensions to the online reading experience."
The current chapbook is Ovenbirds and Other Stories by Dorene O'Brien, with a full archive of previous e-chapbooks and anthologies going back to 2008. Submissions for the spring anthology will open January 1 with submissions for the e-chapbook fiction series running from May 1 - June 30. Lots of time to get your manuscripts ready!
Glimmer Train has just chosen the winning stories for their May/June Short Story Award for New Writers. This competition is held three times a year and is open to all writers whose fiction has not appeared in a print publication with a circulation greater than 5000. The next Short Story Award competition will start on September 1: Short Story Award for New Writers. Glimmer Train’s monthly submission calendar may be viewed here.
1st place goes to Victoria Alejandra Garayalde of San Juan, Puerto Rico, who wins $2500 for “American Dream.” Her story will be published in Issue 104 of Glimmer Train Stories. This will be her first print publication. [Photo credit: Rebecca Titus]
2nd place goes to Jenzo DuQue of Brooklyn, NY, who wins $500 for “How to Harbor an Illegal.” His story will also be published in an upcoming issue, increasing his prize to $700. This will be his first print publication.
3rd place goes to Sena Moon of Ann Arbor, Michigan, who wins $300 for “Sugar.”
A PDF of the Top 25 winners can be found here.
Deadlines soon approaching!
Fiction Open: August 31 (grace period extends through September 10)
Glimmer Train hosts this competition twice a year, and first place wins $3000 plus publication in the journal, and 10 copies of that issue. Second/third: $1000/$600 and consideration for publication. This category has been won by both beginning and veteran writers - all are welcome! There are no theme restrictions. Word count generally ranges from 3000 – 6000, though up to 28,000 is fine. Stories may have previously appeared online but not in print. Click here for complete guidelines.
Very Short Fiction Award: August 31 (grace period extends through September 10)
This competition is also held twice a year, with first place winning $2000 plus publication in the journal, and 10 copies of that issue. Second/third: $500/$300 and consideration for publication. It’s open to all writers, with no theme restrictions, and the word count range is 300 – 3000. Stories may have previously appeared online but not in print. Click here for complete guidelines.