Last month, DM O'Connor reviewed EJ Koh’s collection of poems Lesser Love. In addition to being selected winner of the Pleiades Press Editors Prize for Poetry in 2017, O’Connor offers this praise: “It is clear that each page stands alone as an example of true contemporary poetry. It is clear you should buy this book, memorize all the poems, then give it to a friend who need to be affirmed that poetry is far from dead.”
At the close of the review, O’Connor notes that Koh will even write love letters to her readers, just for the asking. Intrigued, I visited her website, where she states, “I am writing a thousand love letters to strangers by hand.”
Her July 26, 2016 blog post entitled, “It’s Okay, I Love You” explains how she came to this task, beginning the entry with:
“The past nine months, my life has become unrecognizable. When I say this out loud, it means who I am is unrecognizable. But I now see myself for the first time.
“In February, I hoped to write again; beginning was also deciding. I’d once said, 'I’m sick of writing because I’m sick of myself.' To be kinder towards my person, I didn’t go back to that place. On a Friday evening, I was pressed for new perspective. I decided to handwrite a thousand love letters.”
She goes on to explain why the handwriting, why the love – which seems it needs less explaining in our current world that feels imbued with endless hate.
So, I wrote to EJ. I sent her an e-mail, including some details about myself, as she requests, “& add a struggle,” which I did. A couple weeks later, I received a hand-addressed envelope postmarked from Seattle. By then, I had forgotten about my request, and didn’t know EJ was on the west coast, so I was pleasantly surprised to open the envelope and find a two-page, handwritten “love letter.” Mine was numbered 62, and included thoughtful commentary and insight gleaned from information I had shared with her, including my struggle.
A love letter? If love means reaching out to a total stranger, to recognize the work they do, what they care about and what they are struggling with; to treat someone with concern and care and affirmation; to not judge and to just be kind and share in someone’s perspective with seriousness and some humor – then yes. This was the best love letter I’ve ever received.
What a difference writers can make in another person’s life. And all it takes is who we are and what we have, shared with another. So simple, so (nearly) free, and yet – so profound.
My thanks to EJ. I hope others who share in this experience have as great an appreciation. May we all “promise to notice our light every day.”
Three poems by Elizabeth Hoover, winner of the Boulevard 2017 Poetry Contest for Emerging Poets, as selected by Contest Judge Edward Nobles, are featured in the newest Spring 2018 issue. Works by honorable mention poets Lea Anderson and Elizabeth Eagle are also included.
This annual contest awards $1,000 and publication for the winning group of three poems by a poet who has not yet published a book of poetry with a nationally distributed press. The current contest is open until June 1, 2018.
The Greensboro Review Spring 2018 issue features the winners of The Robert Watson Literary Prizes:
Eli Cranor for his story, "Don't Know Tough"
Alison Powell [pictured] for her poem "from The Book of Revelation"
This annual contest awards $1000 for both fiction and poetry as well as publication and closes each year on September 15.
The most recent issue of Michigan Quarterly Review (Winter 2018) opens with Associate Editor Keith Taylor's "What is Found There: Poetry at Michigan," commenting on this issue's special feature. He recounts the Spring 2017 200th anniversary celebration at University of Michigan, which included a day-long conference entitled "Poetry at Michigan." This was a "continuation of two symposia done over the previous few years: one on Theodore Roethke, and the other focising on Robert Hayden and his work."
This issue of MQR has now become the even larger discussion of poets and their connections to UofM, including: Donald Hall, "an important professor" at UofM for almost twenty years; an unpublished interview with Seamus Heaney "a regular visitor for almost a quarter of a century, both before and after his Nobel Prize"; Francey Oscherwitz, and undergraduate at the university thirty-five years ago; Hannah Webster, "a recent graduate of the Zell Writing Program," who "writes about her experience with the Prison Creative Arts Project," including works from Michigan prison students; and Bob Hicock, not a UofM grad, but who lived in Ann Arbor for some twenty years, has contributed "a provocative essay on the necessary and inevitable changes happening in contemporary American poetry."
The Spring/Summer 2018 issue of Black Warrior Review features the winners of their annual writing contest:
Nonfiction Contest Winner
Judge: Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib
"The Best Lighting for My Body Was at the White Horse Inn and Bar, Oakland, California" by Tony Wei Ling
Flash Prose Contest Winner
Judge: Joyelle McSweeney
"Auto-Da-Fé: Confession And Camouflauge" by M.J. Gette
Fiction Contest Winner
Judge: Nicola Griffith
"The World Holds What It Remembers Most" by Tess Allard
Poetry Contest Winner
Judge: Rachel McKibbens
"From a Poet to her Rumbero" by Sarah María Medina
Cover Art: "Undomesticated Interior No. 7" by Lisa Krannichfeld
Journal of the Month is an incredible resource for writers, readers, teachers, students, librarians – does that leave anyone out?
As a general subscriber, you will receive a new literary journal by the tenth of each month, never receiving the same publication twice during your subscription. If you already subscribe to some journals, you just let them know, and they will choose others for you. Yes, there are human beings making these selections, not automated machines!
For teachers, Co-Founder Jenn Scheck-Kahn (aka one of the humans behind this marvelous enterprise), will work with you to select four magazines you’d like to teach. Each student will then receive one publication a month – based on a delivery schedule you develop together, so that the publications arrive in advance of when you plan to teach them. Instructors receive a free set of the copies they plan to teach. Now is the time to plan those readings for the next school year!
Journal of the Month is a super easy gift idea! If you have writers or readers on your holiday or birthday list, what better way to support their interests!
Subscribers can select from 4, 6, 8, 12, and even 24 months.
Try it! See if you like it (how could you not?!), then sign up for more!
FIELD Magazine Editor David Young writes:
"As FIELD 98, our Spring 2018 issue, arrives, it's time to let you know that just two more numbers are scheduled: #99, Fall 2018, and #100, Spring 2019. Many have expressed dismay at learning that FIELD will close down, but both David Walker and I feel the need to free ourselves from the burden of editorship. Nobody thought, when the magazine began in 1969, that it would last this long and become such an institution. All good things eventually terminate, however, and fifty years and one hundred issues make for good round numbers.
"We're hoping to organize a farewell event at next year's AWP meeting. Meanwhile, we're very grateful to our fellow editors, our contributors, and our subscribers for their support and enthusiasm. Also, of course, to Oberlin College for its hospitality. It isn't easy to say goodbye. Thank you for caring and for loving FIELD all these many years."
Thank you David Young (top photo), David Walker, and all the staff, writers, and readers through the years who helped make FIELD a vital voice in our literary community.
Monolith by Jeanne Borofsky on the cover of Volume 29 Number 1 2018 welcomes readers to the party celebrating New England Review's forty years of publication.
Croatian-born artist Moondrusannah's artwork, featured in the online 8.1 issue of New Delta Review, is from her Illustrated Dreams Diary, of which she says, "Any clue to What Girls Really Dream About? I’m just starting to find that out myself, and I like what I see."
Join in National Poetry Month celebrations!
While supplies last, you can request a free copy of the 2018 National Poetry Month poster from the Academy of American Poets, designed by AIGA Medal and National Design Award-winning designer Paula Scher. The design celebrates typography and is suggestive of concrete poetry and Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass.
April 26 is Poem in Your Pocket Day. Carry a poem with you and share it with others! The Academy of American Poets provides a PDF Guide to Celebrating Poetry in Schools, Communities & Businesses, which includes a selection of pocket-sized poems (also cellphone, snapshot sized). Carry and share!
Teach This Poem features a poem each week from the Academy's online collection accompanied by commentary and interdisciplinary resources and activities. Good for K-12 as well as early college.
Dear Poet Project invites grades five through twelve (Common Core lesson plan available) to write letters in response to poems written by poets connected with the Academy of American Poets. Deadline: April 30, 2018 for consideration for publication on Poets.org in 2018 as well as select letters receiving a response.
ReadWriteThink, the educational resource partnering with National Council of Teachers of English and International Literacy Association, provides classroom activities, websites, and related resources for teachers and parents of K-12 students.
Reading Rockets, the national multimedia project from WETA Public Broadcasting, has a full page of resources: Poets on Poetry videos; Learning Through Poetry links to resources and organizations; Poetry Booklists; Video interviews with children's poets; ideas for librarians; and a full list of activities.
American Life in Poetry features a weekly poem with brief commentary from Poet Laurate of the United States 2004-2006 Ted Kooser. Print and online news sources can sign up to reprint the columns.
NaPoWriMo, or National Poetry Writing Month, is an annual project in which participating poets attempt to write a poem a day for the month of April. Best to sign up early, but check it out this year to prepare yourself for next!
Iron City Magazine: Creative Expressions By and For the Incarcerated is an annual online and print journal devoted entirely to writing and art from the prison world, and one that we should all be reading. The name, Iron City Magazine ’s Marketing Editor Jacqueline Aguilar tells me, comes from the image the word "prison" conjures in most of us: "Even though most prisons are chiefly nowadays made of concrete more than iron, it’s still the iron doors, iron bars, and razor wire that most resonate with our image of prison life."
Works by winners of the Ruminate 2018 Kalos Visual Art Prize can be viewed in the Spring 2018 issue, with a still from Eloisa Guanlao's digital documentary Noli Me Tangere featured on the publication's cover.
Joseph Di Bella
Information about each of these selected artists and a full list of finalists can be found here.
AWP’s Small Press Publisher Award is an annual prize for nonprofit presses and literary journals that recognizes the important role such organizations play in publishing creative works and introducing new authors to the reading public. The award acknowledges the hard work, creativity, and innovation of these presses and journals, and honors their contributions to the literary landscape through their publication of consistently excellent work. The award includes a $2,000 honorarium and a complimentary exhibit booth at the AWP Conference & Bookfair in the year following the recipient’s recognition. The prize is given to literary magazines in even years; Creative Nonfiction was a finalist in both 2014 and 2016.
Creative Nonfiction founder and editor Lee Gutkind said, “It’s really nice to be recognized in this way. Creative Nonfiction’s small staff is incredibly dedicated, and does so much with so little. And thanks go to our contributors—the writers and artists whose work makes the magazine possible. Twenty-four years ago, we brought the very first issue of Creative Nonfiction to this conference, and I was so nervous … but we sold every copy. So, thanks go to AWP, too, for all their support over the years.”
Creative Nonfiction is true stories, well told. Each issue of the quarterly features original essays and illustrations; writing that pushes traditional boundaries of the genre; notes on craft; micro-essays; conversations with writers and editors; and more. Almost every issue includes a writer’s first publication, and the editorial team emphasizes a thoughtful editorial process and rigorous fact-checking as vital elements of the organization’s overall educational mission. Visit creativenonfiction.org to learn more.
Thema's cover photo for their Spring 2018 issue is "Question the Answer" by Kathleen Gunton, appropriately fitting for the theme: "Is There a Word for That?" Perhaps not a word, but a beautiful image instead. Upcoming themes in search of submissions: "Where's the food truck?" (July 1) and "The critter in the attic" (November 1).
The cover and internal art portfolio of Georgia Review's Winter 2017 issue features a very different kind of garden life by sculptor Toshihiko Mitsuya: Aluminum. "Far from static," Mitsuya says of his medium, "it takes on the feelings of its surroundings - the wind, the light an the hands that touch it.As a material, aluminum starts in a huge factory and ends in something precious yet transitive: the installation reclaims an industrial material back to nature."
As unique as the vision through the cylindrical optic toy, Kaleidoscope is a publication "exploring the experiene of disability through literature and the arts." Kristin Gehrmann's "The Vial Keeper" reflects the Winter/Spring 2018 theme: Life's Unpredicatbiilty. Now available open access online, readers unfamilar with this journal should defnitely check it out.
The most recent issue of Cold Mountain Review (v45 n2) features winners of the 2017 R.T. Smith Prize for Narrative Poetry:
"We will Never Mend This" by Jeff Burt [pictured]
Read the beautifully heart-wrenching poem and hear it read by the author here.
"A Sestina for Traveling Season" by Geetha Iyer
"To Shadow" by Matthew Winberley
"Prologue" by Jude Whelchel
Gerald Plain's photo "Spider Rock, Canyon DeChelly, Arizona" dizzying perspective draws readers into the newest issue of The Louisville Review (#82, Fall 2017). Inside, The Children's Corner features high school sophomore Haemaru Chung's poem "Waking Up."
Looking forward to summer, I enjoy this cover image (also a bit dizzying) on issue four of Cherry Tree national literary journal published out of Washington College: "Children Running in Backlight (Dozza, Italy)" by Claudio Cricca.
The Art of Miss Fluff is featured in the Winter 2017-2018 issue of The Writing Disorder, and online quarterly of new and emerging writers and artists. Fluff is "an enchanting design brand created by artist, Claudette Barjoud."
Along with commentary from final judge Naomi Shihab Nye, the Winter 2018 issue of The MacGuffin, published by Schoolcraft College in Michigan, features winners of the 22nd National Poet Hunt Contest.
"The Last Time I head Her Play the Piano" by Bethany Reid [pictured]
"Big Sky Drive-in" by Kathleen McClung
"An Ordinary Afternoon" by Sue Fagalde Lick
The Spring 2018 issue of Raleigh Review Literary and Arts Magazine features "Eve," a lush collage by Geri Digiorno.
"Summer Rain" by Kristina Gehrmann on the Spring 2018 cover of Rattle poetry journal brightened my day, as did the special section inside the publication, "Tribute to Immigrant Poets," which includes works by 18 poets who "no longer reside in their country of birth."
"Challenging Transitions" is the theme of most recent issue of The Antioch Review. Like the theme, David Battle's cover image could be broadly interpreted but also directly reflective of Robert S. Fogarty's Editorial, "The Brooklyn Bridge and Other Transitions."
The HitchLit Review: A Secular Literary-Arts Journal publishes online twice per year, poetry, fiction, and non-fiction, and would consider short, stand-alone scenes from plays and screen plays as well as visual art and cover design. “There are many literary magazines,” The HitchLit Review Founder and Editor Daniel Ruefman tells me, “but in a growing community of secular voices, few publications are focused on giveing them a platform. In addition to that, there are a lot of misunderstandings about what it means to be secular today (atheist, agnostic, freethinker, skeptic, etc.). By highlighting secular voices through literature and art, HitchLit hopes to confront stereotypes and demonstrate just how diverse the secular community is.”
The Editor's Note in New Orleans Review Issue 43 (Themed: "This Hustle Is Not Your Grandpa’s African Lit") contained the following announcement:
"Since its founding in 1968, New Orleans Review has had the pleasure of including in its pages the work of hundreds of writers, poets, essayists, critics, celebrities, and artists from around the world. We take particular delight in having published numerous 'first-time-in-print' authors as well as offering eclectic volumes on a range of topics and forms – from Alexander Pope’s 'The Rape of the Lock' to Post-Structuralism, from Spanish-language film to Czech writing in translation, and from Science Fiction to a set of seven chapbooks enclosed in a slipcase. As the journal enters its 50th year, this special issue on contemporary writing from Africa celebrates our final printed volume. Both honoring its past and embracing its future, New Orleans Review will continue to publish new work in an expanded digital venue, which will also include free access to all 50 years of print issues."
1st place goes to Peter Nathaniel Malae [pictured] of McMinnville, Oregon, who wins $2500 for “El Camino.” His story will be published in Issue 103 of Glimmer Train Stories.
2nd place goes to Gregory J. Wolos of Millis, Massachusetts, who wins $500 for “Boy Strangling Goose.” His story will also be published in an upcoming issue of Glimmer Train Stories, increasing his prize to $700.
3rd place goes to Chloe Higgins of Wollongong, Australia, who wins $300 for “Things We Cannot Say.”
Here’s a PDF of the Top 25.