American Life in Poetry: Column 745
BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE
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.
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 (www.poetryfoundation.org), 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.
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.
1st 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.
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.
1st 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.
Crazyhorse Fiction Editor Anthony Varallo's Editor's Note to the Spring 2019 issue couldn't be more timely. In it, he recounts a conversation with a colleague asking, "What do you do with all your books?"
A conundrum for most NewPages readers, no doubt, since being book people still means holding onto physical copies of books, no matter how many e-versions we could be reading also/instead.
I once envisioned the perfect adulthood as being one surrounded by books. I guess I also should have envisioned the time to read them all! Much like the Twilight Episode, Time Enough At Last, we here at NewPages find ourselves surrounded by books and literary journals with barely enough time to glance the covers and contents before another batch arrives in the mail.
We do make time, however, to read, to write reviews, to appreciate others' reviews, and keep up with the literary world in general. Still - here are all these physical books.
Varallo [pictured] writes, "For many years, I acquired books with the idea that I was building a library. A library that would give me pleasure for years, I'd hoped, or a library that might be useful to others . . . "
We had also held such visions at one time, purchasing a dozen or so quality bookcases and having some built in. They quickly filled the office and spilled into numerous rooms in our home. And who read them? Did we have time? Did they even "look good" ? As Varallo comments, "I tell my colleague about the tower of books on my nightstand, the one that stretches higher than my lamp. I describe the books stacked horizontally on my bookshelves, not in the artful, decorative style you sometimes see in glossy magazines; these are stacks of pure necessity. Books piled on top of other books, sometimes bending the covers of the books beneath them."
This is the reality of 'too many books.' Yes, there is such a thing as too many books. And the truth of the matter in our case is, they should be freed onto others so that they can be read.
We cleared off the bookshelves in the office. Cleared out almost every bookcase in the house. We boxed up books and magazines and donated them to various libraries, colleges, universities and K-12 classrooms in our area and a bit beyond (Hello Alaska friends!). After this initial clearing out, we are still met with a steady stream of books and lit mags that come through. It is our work, after all.
What to do with them? We have a plan hatching and look forward to sharing it with you later this summer. In the meantime, What do you do with all your books?
Cutthroat: A Journal of the Arts is collaborating with Black Earth Institute on the publication of a major anthology of contemporary Chicanx writers. Until August 1, 2019, they are accepting submissions of Chicanx poetry and prose from across the country.
The editors for this collection will be Luis Alberto Urrea, Pam Uschuk, Matt Mendez, Beth Alvarado, William Pitt Root, Carmen Calatayud, Carmen Tafolla, Octavio Quintanilla, Theresa Acevedo, Denise Chavez and Edward Vidaurre.
Submission Guidelines: "We are looking for Chicanx writers of poems and prose, from the rasquache to the refined. We want writing that goes deep into the culture and reveals our heritage in new ways. We want experiences, from blue collar gigs to going into higher education and pursuing PhDs. We want work that challenges. That is irreverent. That is both defiant and inventive. That is well-crafted. That is puro Chicanx. We acknowledge Chicanx is an attitude that may intersect with Latinx."
For more information, visit the Cutthroat website.
The editors of Frontier Poetry, in keeping with their mission "to provide practical help for serious writers," especially emerging poets, has a series of interviews - Editors Talk Poetry Acceptances - with "great editors from around the literary community." Frontier Poetry asks for "frank thoughts on why poems may get accepted/rejected from their own slush pile of submissions, and what poets can do to better their chances."
Adding an interview almost every month, Frontier Poetry has so far interviewed Kristin George Bagdanov of Ruminate Magazine, Rick Barot of New England Review, Chelene Knight of Room, Esther Vincent [pictured] of The Tiger Moth Review, Talin Tahajian of Adroit Journal, J.P. Dancing Bear of Verse Daily, Gabrielle Bates of Seattle Review, Melissa Crowe of Beloit Poetry Journal, Marion Wrenn of Painted Bride Quarterly, Hannah Aizenman of The New Yorker, Anthony Frame of Glass Poetry, Luther Hughes of The Shade Journal, Don Share of Poetry, Sumita Chakraborty of Agni, Jessica Faust of The Southern Review, and Kwame Dawes of Prairie Schooner.
The Courtship of Winds each issue asks five questions of writers whose work has previously appeared in the online publication. The Winter 2019 Digital Forum invited Perle Besserman [pictured], Sandra Kohler, Denise Kline, and Jennifer Page to respond to questions to discuss how they see the #MeToo movement now - post initial profound effect, post backlash, post Kavanaugh hearings, and post Christine Blasey Ford testimony.
The writers each responded to five questions posed by the editors, including the Kavanaugh hearings, Trump's mocking Al Franken's stepping down, "utilitarian calculus" as addressed by Sonia Sadha, the impact of movements like this, and any inherent 'dangers' for men and women in our current climate of accusations and speaking up.