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.”
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!
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!
In her craft essay in the February 2018 #133 issue of Glimmer Train's Bulletin, Danielle Lazarin tells readers to "Question Everything" as she does in her own drafting process. Her essay opens:
"On some days, my writing notebooks look like an inquisition, my pages topped and ended with questions: in all-caps, underlined, circled. Many are small: What do the kids want to be called? What is her work? Handwriting=obsessive or careless? Maybe she cries on the subway home, after dinner? But they're big, too: What is true, the memory of it, or the moment? Is she lacking? DO WE REQUIRE HOPE? Though they may appear frantic, a series of scribbled questions aren't signs of confusion or desperation but of sufficient curiosity on my part to propel a story forward. At every stage of my work, questions are my most essential writing tools. I use them to move through to the other side of murky. It's only by stepping into that unknown and uncomfortable space repeatedly during my process that I can become more deliberate in the story I'm telling."
Also included in this month's GT Bulletin are Thomas Fox Averill's "Writing Archival Fiction" and Aline Ohanesian "On Rejection." The Bulletin is free to read online and have delivered monthly to your e-mail.
The Editors at Broadsided Press write:
We have, according to the constitution, the right “to keep and bear arms” in the United States. But how, in the wake of Las Vegas, Pulse, Sandy Hook, Trayvon Martin, and other abuses of firearms—by citizens and in some cases by those trained to protect and serve—do we bear that right? How do we bear it?
At Broadsided, we believe that art and literature belong in our daily lives. They inspire and demonstrate the vitality and depth of our connection with the world. We had to speak out—we had to make a space for you to speak out—on this issue as part of our ongoing "Broadsided Responds" feature.
We put out a call to visual artists asking for submissions. Work came from all over the country, in all media. Powerful, provocative, dynamic work. Guest Arts Editor Stacy Isenbarger selected six pieces that offer a range of attitudes, aesthetics, and opportunities. Of her decision, Stacy has this to say:
How do we confront that of which we already hold tightly? Collectively, these chosen works offer a dimensional conversation of this weighted issue. Some may suggest a boundary of societal judgement, but they don’t necessarily reveal what side they are one. Instead these pieces offer evolving space. They welcome an opportunity for viewers to discuss how we bear that which touches our lives.
We now ask you to respond with words to six works of visual art by Sandra Cohen, Jonathan Frey, David Kamm, Osceola Refetoff, Dixie Salazar, and Kristen Woodward.
When you submit your writing, be sure to be clear as to which piece you are responding.
DEADLINE: December 27, 2017.
The December 2017 Glimmer Train Bulletin is a fun read this time around, with an eclectic mix of craft essay written from teachers and authors, some of whose works have recently been published in Glimmer Train Stories.
Author of the novel The Luster of Lost Things , Sophie Chen Keller's [pictured] essay, "On Writing from a Child's Perspective for Adults," is a topic I have often tried to better understand as a reviewer assessing others' writing;. This was an instructive perspective to read, as Keller asks, "But how to manage that voice while keeping the novel from becoming a book for younger readers - especially when my inspiration for plot and tone was those books for younger readers?"
For essays on writing and revision, University of Chicago Professor Will Boast offers his advice on "Cutting Out the Bad Bits," while Andrew Porter, Associate Professor of Creative Writing at Trinity University in San Antonio writes on "The Long First Draft."
And, in these volatile times, Iranian-American writer Siamak Vossoughi comments on "The Political Lives of Characters," noting the decision writers face: "Political beliefs can matter a lot, in stories and in life, and they can not matter at all. [. . . ] 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."
The Glimmer Train Bulletin is free to read online each month here, or have it delivered monthly to your inbox.
In addition to general management and editorial duties, the Senior Editor will also be responsible for directing a special translation project and academic database using literature previously published in Hayden’s Ferry Review.
Applicants should have a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism or a related field and five years related experience; an MFA in Creative Writing, bilingualism, and experience working in a university setting and web development are preferred.
Salary range $41,976 - $50,000 DOE.
To view the full job description and apply, visit http://bit.ly/2hNxTGU or search openings at https://cfo.asu.edu/applicant by job title “Senior Editor” or requisition number “36507BR”. A pdf of the job description is also available at http://bit.ly/2fRlVLQ.
Individuals with any questions should contact the Piper Center at 480.965.6018 or pipercenter.info-at-asu.edu.
The position will close Wednesday, November 1st, 2017.