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Denise Hill

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Summer-Inspired Writing Prompts posted by Anca Szilagyi on the Ploughshares Blog includes short lists of prompts for five-minute prompts (#1 List all the scary things you associate with summer.), ten-minute prompts (#5 Describe the weirdest summer camp you can imagine.), and twenty-minute or longer prompts (#2 Write a story around the ideas of ripening and rotting.). There's still plenty of summer left to use these motivators, and bring an end to any summer writing procrastination!
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"I cannot abide a story told to me by a numb, empty voice that never responds to anything that’s happening, that doesn’t express some feelings in response to what it sees. Place is not just what your feet are crossing to get to somewhere. Place is feeling, and feeling is something a character expresses. More, it is something the writer puts on the page—articulates with deliberate purpose. If you keep giving me these eyes that note all the details—if you tell me the lawn is manicured but you don’t tell me that it makes your character both deeply happy and slightly anxious—then I’m a little bit frustrated with you. I want a story that’ll pull me in. I want a story that makes me drunk. I want a story that feeds me glory. And most of all, I want a story I can trust. I want a story that is happening in a real place, which means a place that has meaning and that evokes emotions in the person who’s telling me the story. Place is emotion."

From "Place" by Dorothy Allison, posted on the Tin House blog, originally published in The Writer's Notebook: Craft Essays from Tin House.
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Found Poetry Review is a print publication, but you can check out some of each issue's content online. Issue Seven is fresh and includes "1816 Was a Year of Unpredictable Weather" by Reiser Perkins, sourced from email spam:
Everything at night is a silence you pass into your mother, the same green of aspens surrounded by snow and the way light moves through a day, or a hundred days. Cold sun draws the chariot parallax with stars.
"Driving in Ablation Fog" by Sonja Johanson, sourced from The Future of Ice by Gretel Ehrlich: "Blue leaves peel off, / we have weather / instead of wine." "Again" by Sennah Yee, sourced from Google Search autocomplete results, four search result boxes:


And "Born. . . " by Peter Vaentine, sourced from a New York Times crossword puzzle: "high in the crows nest up high in the smoke of the stars." Found Poetry Review's website includes helpful information about types of found poetry and fair use, as well as submission advice on what types of found poetry they "rarely see done well." Found Poetry Review's editors are also available to travel to schools, writing centers, literary festival, etc. to give workshops and talks on found poetry, with "discounts available if your town has a dueling piano bar."
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Glimmer Train has just chosen the winning stories for their March Family Matters competition. This competition is held twice a year and is open to all writers for stories about family of all configurations. The next Family Matters competition will take place in September. Glimmer Train’s monthly submission calendar may be viewed here.

First place: Douglas W. Milliken [pictured], of Portland, ME, wins $1500 for “Blue of the World.” His story will be published in Issue 94 of Glimmer Train Stories.

Second place: Scott Gloden, of Chagrin Falls, OH, wins $500 for “What Is Louder.”

Third place: MK Hall, of Venice, CA, wins $300 for “Fortune & Riot.”

A PDF of the Top 25 winners can be found here.

Deadline soon approaching for Short Story Award for New Writers: May 31. This competition is held quarterly and is open to all writers whose fiction has not appeared in a print publication with a circulation over 5000. No theme restrictions. Most submissions to this category run 1500-5000 words, but can go up to 12,000. First place prize is $1500. Second/third: $500/$300. Click here for complete guidelines.
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From Richard Gold, founder of Pongo Teen Writing Project, Writing with At-Risk Youth: The Pongo Teen Writing Method (Rowman & Littlefield Education, 2014) is Pongo’s primary teaching tool, the basis of Pongo's training and given to all workshop participants. It describes the context of trauma in the lives of youth, explains the particular role of poetry, provides the specifics of Pongo’s teaching methods, and tells how to design your own writing project.

The Pongo Teen Writing Project is an 18-year-old nonprofit in Seattle that provides therapeutic poetry programs to youth who've suffered childhood traumas, such as abuse and neglect. Pongo has worked with over 6,000 youth inside juvenile detention centers, homeless shelters, psychiatric hospitals, and other sites. The Pongo website features writing activities, poetry, and teacher resources.

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American Life in Poetry: Column 477

When a poem has a strong story to tell, the simplest and most direct language is often the best choice because the poet may not want literary effects to get in the way of the message. Here’s a good example of straightforward language used to maximum effectiveness by Jeanie Greensfelder, who lives in California.

Sixth Grade

We didn’t like each other,
but Lynn’s mother had died,
and my father had died.

Lynn’s father didn’t know how to talk to her,
my mother didn’t know how to talk to me,
and Lynn and I didn’t know how to talk either.

A secret game drew us close:
we took turns being the prisoner,
who stood, hands held behind her back,

while the captor, using an imaginary bow,
shot arrow after arrow after arrow
into the prisoner’s heart.

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 © 2012 by Jeanie Greensfelder from her most recent book of poems, Biting the Apple, published by Penciled In, 2012. Poem reprinted by permission of Jeanie Greensfelder and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2014 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. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.
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American Life in Poetry: Column 468

Here’s another lovely poem to honor the caregivers among us. Amy Fleury lives and teaches in Louisiana.


Because one must be naked to get clean,
my dad shrugs out of his pajama shirt,
steps from his boxers and into the tub
as I brace him, whose long illness
has made him shed modesty too.
Seated on the plastic bench, he holds
the soap like a caught fish in his lap,
waiting for me to test the water’s heat
on my wrist before turning the nozzle
toward his pale skin. He leans over
to be doused, then hands me the soap
so I might scrub his shoulders and neck,
suds sluicing from spine to buttock cleft.
Like a child he wants a washcloth
to cover his eyes while I lather
a palmful of pearlescent shampoo
into his craniotomy-scarred scalp
and then rinse clear whatever soft hair
is left. Our voices echo in the spray
and steam of this room where once,
long ago, he knelt at the tub’s edge
to pour cups of bathwater over my head.
He reminds me to wash behind his ears,
and when he judges himself to be clean,
I turn off the tap. He grips the safety bar,
steadies himself, and stands. Turning to me,
his body is dripping and frail and pink.
And although I am nearly forty,
he has this one last thing to teach me.
I hold open the towel to receive him.

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 ©2013 by Amy Fleury from her most recent book of poems, Sympathetic Magic, Southern Illinois Univ. Press, 2013. Poem reprinted by permission of Amy Fleury and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2014 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. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.
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On her blog, Rogue Embryo,  artist and poet Camille Martin features a multi-part posting on Hungarian -Canadian avante garde writer and artist, Robert Zend (1929-1985). Never heard of him, but was drawn by the final installment: "Gaskets, Thumbtacks, Toilet Paper Rolls . . and Doodles." The reason being, I've have recently discovered what a perfect form toilet paper rolls provide for writing! I've seized the opportunity whenever finding these lovely tubes left behind in the stall to provide a bit of literary enjoyment for whomever steps in next. Of course, I couldn't be the only one, and upon finding Martin's article on Zend, am all the more inspired by his work in visual art: "Zend used technologies that were available to him, including typewriter and computer. He also used whatever materials were at hand, including automotive gaskets, thumbtacks, and toilet paper rolls. Zend was also a prolific doodler, drawing his casual sketches (some quite intricate) on everything from Post-It notes to cocktail napkins." Martin goes into greater exploration in her post, including images and video (of the toilet paper roll on a turntable!). After this, I went all the way back to the beginning and started reading more about Zend; Martin's biographical work on him spans his entire life, includes a great deal of historical context and examples with commentary of his work. Martin's personal website provides her own poetry and artwork, which simply adds to the exploration. I'm still on this serendipitous journey and am enjoying learning more about both fabulous poets and artists.
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Now in it's 14th year, Writer Beware is an excellent professional/educational resource that every writer who submits work should read. Writer Beware is "a publishing industry watchdog group sponsored by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America with additional support from the Mystery Writers of America, shining a bright light into the dark corners of the shadow-world of literary scams, schemes, and pitfalls."

Here's a list of Writer Beware's most notable posts and warnings from 2011:

First One Publishing's Writing Contest
Karma's a Bitch (For Scammers)
Why Your Self-Publishing Service Probably Didn't Cheat You
The Interminable Agency Clause
Book Fair Bewares
Net Profit Royalty Clauses
Literary Agencies as Publishers: a Trend and a Problem
Getting Out of Your Book Contract--Maybe
Clark, Mendelson and Scott: New Name for a Fee-Charging Agency
The Cruelest Hoax
Farrah Gray Publishing
Taking Famous Names in Vain
The Agenda of The Write Agenda
A Small Press Implodes: The Inside Story of Aspen Mountain Press
The Brit Writers Awards: Questions and Threats
Introducing Writer Beware's Small Presses Page
The Fine Print of Amazon's New KDP Select Program
Publisher Alert: Arvo Basim Yayin

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