As 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.
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.
American Life in Poetry: Column 739
BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE
I don't suppose there are many of our younger readers who have started to worry about the possibility of memory loss, but I'd guess almost everybody over fifty does. Peter Schneider lives in Massachusetts and this is from his book Line Fence, from Amherst Writers and Artists Press.
Lost in Plain Sight
I lost my short-term memory.
It was there and then it moved
like the flash of a red fox
along a line fence.
My short-term memory
has no address but here
no time but now.
It is a straight-man, waiting to speak
to fill in empty space
with name, date, trivia, punch line.
And then it fails to show.
It is lost, hiding somewhere out back
a dried ragweed stalk on the Kansas Prairie
holding the shadow of its life
against a January wind.
How am I to go on?
I wake up a hundred times a day.
Who am I waiting for
what am I looking for
why do I have this empty cup
on the porch or in the yard?
I greet my neighbor, who smiles.
I turn a slow, lazy Susan
in my mind, looking for
some clue, anything to break the spell
of being lost in plain sight.
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 ©2006 by Peter Schneider, "Lost in Plain Sight," from Line Fence (Amherst Writers and Artists Press, 2006). Poem reprinted by permission of Peter Schneider 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.
In his Spring 2019 "Welcome Readers" section, founder and editor M. Scott Douglass explains his plan to "retire from editing" Main Street Rag.
In making such a proclamation, Douglass comments, "the assumption is that you (I) are/am going out of business. That's not the plan." Having already sold off the production equipment for the publishing arm of MSR, Douglass is moving to the next step: "find a suitable replacement to edit the journal (and possibly books). I'd like to be able to bring this person along slowly, train them in the use of software, deadlines, scheduling, etc., but as soon as you hang a sign that says, 'Looking for new leadership,' again, everyone thinks you're on your deathbed and avoids you."
"We're not dying. I'm not dying. We have no debt, so we're not in financial difficulty." Instead, Douglass notes, after nearly twenty-five years, it's just time for him to focus on his own "muse" and get out from behind the desk to travel more.
"So, if you know someone looking to take over a literary house who's willing to put in some training time, send them my way. There may be a place for them here."
The newest issue of Gulf Coast (31.2) is chock-full of award winning writing!
2018 Barthelme Prize
Judge Laura van den Berg
"Something Clear" by Sarah Minor [pictured]
"Hunger" by Yi Jiang
"Some Weather" by Aliceanna Stopher
2018 Translation Prize in Poetry
Judge Ilya Kaminsky
"Air Raid" by Polina Barskova, Transl. by Valzhyna Mort
"Colonies of Paradise" by Matthias Göritz, Transl. by Mary Jo Bang
"Nobility" by Álvaro Lasso Transl. by Kelsi Vanada
2018 Beauchamp Prize in Critical Art Writing
Judge Wendy Vogel
“A Long, Dull Shadow: Georg Baselitz’s Legacy of Misogyny” by Maura Callahan, originally published on Momus
“Playing in the Institute: On Tag at the ICA Philadelphia” by C. Klockner
“Intimate Structures: Dorothea Rockburne at Dia: Beacon” Chloe Wyma
For a full list of entries, finalists, links to work, and information about these annual contests, visit Gulf Coast.
The Winter 2018 issue features a tribute to Stitt, with contributions from Floyd Collins, Sidney Wade, Philip Schultz, Linda Pastan, Albert Goldbarth, Christopher Howell, Hope Maxwell Snyder, Michael Waters, Rebecca McClanahan, and a closing poem by Peter Stitt, “Winter Search.”
Issue No. 17 of The Common includes a special portfolio of stories from Syria, with works by Luqman Derki (Trans. Jonathan Wright), Shahla Al-Ujayli (Trans. Alice Guthrie), Mohammad Ibrahim Nawaya (Trans. Robin Moger), Raw’a Sunbul (Trans. Alice Guthrie), Haidar Haidar (Trans. Jonathan Wright), Odai Al Zoubi (Trans. Robin Moger), Colette Bahna (Trans. Robin Moger), and Ibrahim Samuel (Trans. Maia Tabet), as well as artwork from Syria, courtesy of the Hindiyeh Museum of Art.
The Common website features full content online as well as a supercool interactive map [pictured] of the issue - click on the geographical marker and get a photo and link to the content.
For teachers: The Common offers supplementary teaching materials for each issue. A classroom subscription includes two issues for every student and an in-person or Skype visit from Editor in Chief Jennifer Acker or a participating author.
Kenyon Review Editor David Baker opens the May/June 2019 issue with his commentary on the annual "Nature's Nature" theme. In response to our having witnessed "the Trump administration take further steps to release two hundred thousand more acres of public land—this time in Utah along the Canyonlands and the Green River—to 'development,'" Baker notes that "Greed, stupidity, and fever for power are not new to our country or even our species—read Shakespeare, Dante, Homer—but the velocity of unfixable damages and the extent of losses are without precedent."
Baker asks, "Are we one or two generations away from the point of no return for environmental stability? Is ours the last generation with hope of preventing or slowing a massive disaster? Is it too late? The calculations come every week, with variables, but the constant alarm is the same."
This is what compelled him, he recounts, "to curate a special feature on ecology and poetry . . . I wanted to showcase new poems that resisted such forms of power and that named one by one the spectacular, beautiful, and often endangered citizens of the natural world."
Now an annual issue, the writers featured each year are purposefully diverse in that the publication does not choose the same authors to appear more than once. The compilation features twenty-seven new poems, one essay, and two portfolios of artwork. For a full list of content with some selections available to read online, visit the Kenyon Review.
First Prize $1000
“Dancing Room Only”
Jim Reese [pictured], Yankton, SD
Second Prize $200
“Cu Tantu Si Cala ‘U Culu Si Para”
Maria Fama, Philadelphia, PA
Third Prize $100
Lorraine Conlin, Wantagh, NY
A full list of Honorable Mention and Editor's Choice recipients can be seen here.
The Alan Ginsberg Poetry Award for 2019 has closed, but submissions are open for the 2020 award.
Winner of Boulevard's 2018 Nonfiction Contest for Emerging Writers, Gabe Montesanti's essay "The Worldwide Roller Derby Convention" is featured in the Spring 2019 issue (#101/102). Montesanti lives in St. Louis where she skates for the local team, Arch Rival, under the name Joan of Spark.
In a commentary about her work, she says, "'The Worldwide Roller Derby Convention' became the final chapter of my MFA thesis at Washington University in St. Louis, and is now the final chapter of my full-length memoir about derby. This essay unlocked the whole project for me, in a way. Recognizing the themes of physicality and queerness led me to draw new parallels between roller derby and my unconventional and often violent upbringing. Having a vision of the end also gave me direction—a place I could write toward."
The 2019 Nonfiction Contest for Emerging Writers opens June 2, 2019. The winner receives $1000 and publication.
A 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."