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Published May 21, 2019

nina riggsAs previously announced, Cave Wall is fundraising to establish the Nina Riggs Poetry Award. They are sooooo  close to their target amount and are now offering a sweet GIANT RAFFLE to help them reach their goal.

Check out the HUGE list of prizes here. Everyone who donates any amount will be entered in the raffle. A win no matter what!

In discussing the award with me, Cave Wall Editor Rhett Trull offered this beautiful reminiscence:

When Nina got pregnant, she was told by a poetry colleague, "Oh no, here come the motherhood poems." Years later, when I got pregnant, a different colleague told me, "Whatever you do, just don't start writing motherhood poems." We knew they were teasing, but it bothered us. And of course, we ignored it and wrote whatever we wanted to write, whatever we were moved to write. Because that's what we do as poets, all of us: we write toward the heart. I used to hear, all the time, "Don't write poems about grandmothers and dead pets." Well, that's ridiculous. You can write about ANYTHING. Just write it well, write beyond subject and self, toward the greater truths to which all subjects lead us if we let them. At Cave Wall, we've published some beautiful poems about grandmothers and dead pets, once in the same poem and wow, is it a knockout. Anyway, Nina believed all subjects worthy of poetry. And I hope with this award, we can encourage and celebrate writing that mines the everyday for its beauty and truth, as well as writing about relationships and family and, yes, motherhood, too. All of it. All the small and big and wondrous things that connect us, that shine a light on the ordinary revealing that everything is extraordinary if we take a moment to see it.

Published May 03, 2019

waltA great idea to celebrate the 200th birthday of Walt Whitman,The Poetry Motel Foundation and the Hudson Valley Writers Guild will hold a public reading of "Song of Myself" on May 31 at the Robert Burns Statue, Washington Park, Albany, NY. 

If you're in the area, they are looking for readers to help manage some of the 1300 lines in 52 sections. For those not nearby - perhaps arranging a public reading in your own town would be a wonderful commemoration of the poet in keeping with "most of Whitman’s work . . . [a] celebration of the individual, of the nation, and of the spiritual possibility within us all."

Published May 01, 2019

poetry postcards 2019Now in its 13th LUCKY year, the August Poetry Postcard Festival is opening registration earlier than usual, starting May 1!

Teachers, students, writers, readers, traditional postal mail lovers - this is YOUR kind of festival! Super easy and fun to participate in! Once you sign up, you'll get a list of 32 names (yours included), and starting in mid-July (so they start arriving in August), you write an original poem on a postcard and mail it to the name after yours on the list. Then, each day, new postcard, new poem, next name on the list, and so on, until you have written 31 poems and sent them away to their eagerly awaiting recipients (write 32 poems if you want to send yourself one!).

I LOVE this event and have been doing it from its inception. Every year brings new challenges and new delights. Writing a poem a day seems easy enough, but some days, the inspiration is more difficult than others. Still, every year, getting postcards (nearly) daily in the mailbox is such a joy! And there are a few brave souls who continue writing throughout the year - I'm still getting the occasional postcard with numbers in the hundreds or two-hundreds. Wow! 

Really, of all the events I've attended over my years, none have been as inexpensive nor as rewarding as this one. In 2018 there were 293 participants from 7 countries and 31 states/provinces, so a huge thanks to poet Paul Nelson, one of the APPF founders as well as Director of Seattle Poetry LAB.

What are you waiting for? Sign up TODAY!

Published April 19, 2019

monmouth university logoMonmouth University has announced a new way for students to earn a degree. The MA/MFA dual degree program in Creative Writing prepares writers for their future by offering publishing experience, an award-winning faculty, and flexible course offerings.

Once completing an MA in English with a Creative Writing concentration, MFA students then have 18 additional credits of creative writing study which includes the completion of a book-length Creative Thesis.

Learn more about the dual degree and find out what else the program has to offer at the Monmouth University website.
Published April 18, 2019

nina riggsThe editors of Cave Wall poetry magazine have put in great effort to create The Nina Riggs Poetry Award to honor their late friend and poet, author of The Bright Hour  and Lucky Lucky.

This crowd-funded award will be given annually to at least one poet for "the finest writing that examines relationships, family, or domestic life" in honor of Nina's own "beautiful work on many subjects, including relationships and domestic life. She knew how to savor every moment of her too-short life, and in her poetry and her memoir, she explores the poignancy and love that resonate in the details of every day."

Nominations are made by individuals who read poems that honor family or relationships in some way that have been published within the last three years. There is no application process; readers simply send in a copy of the poem. Readers can nominate up to six poems (no self-nominations). Each winner will receive $500 with the possibility of attending a reading in Greensboro, NC. See complete guidelines here.

The Nina Riggs Poetry Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)3, so all donations are tax-deductible. Donations are currently being accepted with donors at certain levels being recognized by Cave Wall online and in print.

To read more about Nina Riggs and make a donation, go to FundRazr: Nina Riggs Poetry Foundation.

Published March 12, 2019

scholastic news kidsScholastic 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]

Published March 11, 2019

nationalpoetrymonthposter2019The Academy of American Poets offers a plethora of FREE resources for celebrating National Poetry Month!

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!

Published February 26, 2019

 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.

Courses include:

  • mahagony l brownEngaging 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.

 

Published February 04, 2019

THAT DAMNED FENCE
By Jim Yoshihara

They’ve sunk the posts, deep into the ground
They’ve strung out wires, all the way around.
With machine gun nests, just over there,
And sentries and soldiers everywhere.

We’re trapped like rats in a wired cage,
To fret and fume with impotent rage;
Yonder whispers the life of the night,
But that DAMNED FENCE in the floodlight glare.

We seek the softness of the midnight air,
But that DAMNED FENCE in the floodlight glare
Awaken unrest in our nocturnal quest,
And mockingly laughs with vicious jest.

With nowhere to go and nothing to do,
We feed terrible, lonesome and blue;
That DAMNED FENCE is driving us crazy,
Destroying our youth and making us lazy.

Imprisoned in here for a long, long time,
We know we’re punished tho we’ve committed no crime,
Our thoughts are gloomy and enthusiasm damp,
To be locked up in a concentration camp.

Loyalty we know and Patriotism we feel,
To sacrifice our utmost was our ideal,
To fight for our country, and die mayhap;
But we’re here because we happen to be JAP.

We all love life, and our country best,
Our misfortune to be here in the West,
To keep us penned behind that DAMNED FENCE,
Is someone’s notion of NATIONAL DEFENSE!!!!!!!

The Densho Digital Repository is an open online resource which chronicles the WWII incarceration of Japanese Americans with photographs, documents, newspapers, letters and other primary resources. Densho credits this poem to Jim Yoshihara, written while incarcerated at Minidoka concentration camp in Idaho, c. 1940.

 

Published January 30, 2019

I often run across commentary related to writers' frustrations with submitting to literary magazines, running into the Wall of Rejection, and rants against The Establishment perceived in many long-standing publications/academically-connected journals. Often, new publications are started by writers attempting to break down the barriers for other writers, promising to give consideration to those totally-unknown authors as well as those who do not come with a highly-acclaimed workshop/colony/MFA pedigree. Stick around literary publishing long enough, and the repetitions become easy to sort, but nonetheless, heartfelt and real for those going through them for the first time.

annette gendlerAnette Gendler, in her post "The Year I Gave Up Submitting to Literary Magazines" in Women Writers, Women['s] Books, took a look at her publishing record a few years back, "As 2015 drew to a close, I reviewed my submissions log and noted that 25 submissions to literary magazines had yielded zero acceptances." After considering the usual self-blame ("not enough effort, I should have submitted more"), Gendler considered her record for the years prior: 32 submissions/0 acceptances; 68 submissions/0 acceptances.

For many reading this, I know the first thought: Maybe she's just not that good.

Consider her previous publication credits: Bella Grace, Washington Independent Review of Books, Tablet Magazine, Thread, Wall Street Journal, and, for a period of time before this 'dry spell': Flashquake, South Loop Review, Under the Sun, Bellevue Literary Review, Kaleidoscope, Natural Bridge, and Prime Number Magazine.

She's been published. She just wasn't seeing the results that would encourage her to continue banging her head against that Wall. Yet, she asked herself, "Could I abandon the mothership?" She did, and instead, "I focused on the publications whose work I truly admired and loved to read, and that’s where I kept submitting."

The result? "It’s not that suddenly all my work gets accepted, but the rate is much higher," Gendler writes. "I now look at my submissions in terms of publications I want to get into. I think about what I could write for  them."

After reading Gendler's commentary and seeing it had been a few years, I wondered, "Where is she now?" with her stance on lit mags, so I reached out to her to ask.

"My approach has pretty much stayed the same since then," she wrote, "I don't submit to literary magazines anymore. Not doing so was essentially a course correction for me. Literary magazines are just not the right market for my work, even though I write literary nonfiction and memoir."

As well, since that time, she has published her first book, Jumping Over Shadows: A Memoir. Ironically, a lit mag editor, having read her post, asked her to submit something for their journal. She did, and they published The Flying Dutchman, an excerpt from her book.

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