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Denise Hill

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john elizabeth stintziThe Summer 2019 issue of The Malahat Review features winners of their biannual Long Poem Prize for 2019 judged by Jordan Abel, Sonnet L’Abbé and Gillian Sze:

"Cold Dying Black Wet Cold Early Thing" by John Elizabeth Stintzi [pictured]
Read judges' comments and an interview with John Stintzi here.

"Weight" by Erin Soros
Read judges' comments and an interview with Erin Soros here.

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spoon river poetry review v44 n1 summer 2019A recent series of poems by Jeannine Hall Gailey in the Spoon River Poetry Review is a testament to the tenacity of poetry and its poet. In her first chapbook, Female Comic Book Superheroes (Pudding House Publishing, 2005), I met Gailey as a stealthy kick-ass feminist poet. Her works were subtle but fierce, drawing character, voice, and reader into a collective sense of powerful control. Her following five books continued on this vein through recurring themes of mythology, fairy tale, feminism, science, science fiction, and the apocalypse. Through the years, I also kept up with her blog, where she shared her diagnosis of MS. But, as she first noted, back in 2013, “. . . I don’t want to define myself by this or any of the other weirdo health stuff I have. I am maybe a mutant, but I have a lot of good things in my life too.”

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language of bones spraginsElizabeth Spencer Spragins’ passion for bardic verse in The Language of the Bones is irresistible. I can’t imagine a writer who, after reading this, wouldn’t try her hand at it or even use this as a class text to inspire students. Though Spragins does not provide ‘guidelines’ for the forms she utilizes – four Welsh (cywydd llosgyrnog, rhupunt, clogyrnach, cyhydedd hir) and one Gaelic (rannaigheacht ghairid) – a Google search offers plenty of resources (including an article by Spragins herself).

This “American Journeys in Bardic Verse” takes readers from Virginia to South and North Carolina, the deserts of the Southwest, the forests of the Northwest, and all the way to Alaska. Each poem is accompanied by endnotes to provide historical and cultural contexts. Because Spragins has specifically chosen to give “voice to the unspoken, the overlooked, and the forgotten,” these poems require prior knowledge for greatest appreciation, and each is a kind of history lesson. The “starving time” in colonial Jamestown; the forcible removal of the Cherokee Nation from their homeland; people, events, and landmarks of the American Civil War and the south are subjects Spragins educates her readers about through deftly crafted meter and rhyme which, she instructs, is traditionally read aloud.

Spragins also includes contemporary issues and does not shy away from controversy, as in her poem “At Standing Rock,” commenting on the treatment of Lakota Sioux. “Polar Night,” “Hunters,” and “Northern Lights” stand in witness to the devastations of climate change. And the book closes on a series of poems that return to places where nature and spirituality intersect, in “Sedona,” “The Garden of the Gods,” the Sangre de Cristo Mountains (“Sacred Songs”), and Muir Woods (“Spires”). A looking outward from who and where we are physically to something much greater and beyond.

Read more about Elizabeth Spencer Spragins and The Language of the Bones in an interview with Ceri Shaw on AmeriCymru.


Review by Denise Hill

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paperbarkPromising “stimulating, relevant, high-quality writing and art from across the world” focused on issues related to climate change, environmental justice, social justice, and, in the case of their upcoming second issue, resilience, Paperbark Literary Magazine is a stunning new annual of poetry, prose, and visual and multimedia art.
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the shoreCutting, strange, and daring  are the words The Shore uses to describe the kind of poetry they seek to publish for its readership. Like the waters of lakes or seas or even rivers, the editors detail, “We want poems that push and ache and recede.” And like any beautiful and powerful shoreline, how could readers and writers not be drawn in?
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lisa hase jacksonWish I could have been at this party: Ciclops Cyderie and Brewery in Spartanburg, SC created a beer release of "Sense and Sprucability - A Writer's Tale," based on a recipe by home brewer Jane Austen to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Converse College Low-Residency MFA. At the same event, South 85 Journal, the semi-annual online literary journal published by the MFA program, welcomed Lisa Hase-Jackson [pictured] as their new Managing Editor. Hase-Jackson is herself a published poet and served as Review Editor of 85 South Journal  in the past. Read more about the upcoming change here.
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American Life in Poetry: Column 745

The following poem by James Davis May, published in 32 Poems Magazine, has a sentence I'd like to underline, because it states just what I look for in the poems I choose for this column: "We praise the world by making / others see what we see." Here we have moonflowers opening, for a man and his daughter, and for us. The poet lives in Georgia and is the author of Unquiet Things  from Louisiana State University Press.

james davis mayMoonflowers

Tonight at dusk we linger by the fence
around the garden, watching the wound husks
of moonflowers unclench themselves slowly,
almost too slow for us to see their moving—
you notice only when you look away
and back, until the bloom decides,
or seems to decide, the tease is over,
and throws its petals backward like a sail
in wind, a suddenness about this as though
it screams, almost the way a newborn screams
at pain and want and cold, and I still hear
that cry in the shout across the garden
to say another flower is about to break.
I go to where my daughter stands, flowers
strung along the vine like Christmas lights,
one not yet lit. We praise the world by making
others see what we see. So now she points and feels
what must be pride when the bloom unlocks itself
from itself. And then she turns to look at me.

We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry  magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2018 by James Davis May, "Moonflowers," from 32 Poems Magazine (Number 16.2, Winter, 2018). Poem reprinted by permission of James Davis May 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.

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Glimmer Train has just chosen the winning stories for their final Short Story Award for New Writers competition. The award was given for a short story by a writer whose fiction has not appeared with a circulation greater than 5000.

rachael uwada clifford1st place goes to Rachael Uwada [pictured] Clifford of Baltimore, Maryland, who wins $2500 for “What the Year Will Swallow.” Her story will be published in Issue 106, the final issue of Glimmer Train Stories. This will be her first fiction publication.

2nd place goes to Douglas Kiklowicz of Long Beach, California, who wins $500 for “I Used to Be Funny.” His story will also be published in Issue 106 of Glimmer Train, increasing his prize to $700. This will be his first fiction publication.

3rd place goes to Ashley Alliano of Orlando, Florida, who wins $300 for “Trust.” Her story will also be published in Issue 106 of Glimmer Train, increasing her prize to $700. This will be her first fiction publication.

Here’s a PDF of the Top 25.

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Glimmer Train has chosen the winning stories for their final  Family Matters competition. This award was given for a short story about families of any configuration. 

robin halevy1st place goes to Robin Halevy [pictured] of Big Pine Key, Florida, who wins $2500 for “Bright Ideas for Residential Lighting.” Her story will be published in Issue 106, the final issue of Glimmer Train Stories. This will be her first fiction publication.

2nd place goes to Arthur Klepchukov of Germantown, Maryland, who wins $500 for “The Unfinished Death of My Grandfather.” His story will also be published in Issue 106 of Glimmer Train, increasing his prize to $700. 

3rd place goes to Christa Romanosky of Tulsa, Oklahoma, who wins $300 for “Ways to Light the Water on Fire.” Her story will also be published in Issue 106 of Glimmer Train, increasing her prize to $700.

Here’s a PDF of the Top 25.

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nancy stohlmanBending Genres online literary journal offers monthly online weekend genre workshops. For $111 each, writers can sign up for "Mutate Through the Five Elements: Flash Your Fleshy Pearls" July 12- 14 with Meg Tuite, "Opening the Back Door: Absurdism as a Way to Truth" August 23 - 25 with Nancy Stohlman [pictured], and "Human Typography: Sculpting Surprising, Broken - and Real - Characters for More Compelling Stories" September 20 - 22 with Robert Russell. For more information about each workshop and registration, click here.

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