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Denise Hill

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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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August's Broadsided Press collaboration, "Dear Atom Bomb," features a poem by Catherine Pierce and art by Ira Joel Haber:
". . . In Science class movies, you puffed men like microwaved marshmallows, raked blood from their insides, and always I could feel your heat like a massive cloak around my shoulders."
Edited by Elizabeth Bradfield, Sean Hill, Gabrielle Bates, Alexandra Teague, and Lori Zimmermann, Broadsided has been putting literature in the streets since 2005. Each month, a new broadside is posted both on the website and around the nation.

Writing is chosen through submissions sent to Broadsided. Artists allied with Broadsided are emailed the selected writing. They then "dibs" on what resonates for them and respond visually - sometimes more than one artist will respond offering a selection of broadsides.

Broadsided Vectors can download the poem in full color or black and white and poster it around town, campus, wherever! Become a Broadsided Vector today!

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As a national, nonprofit HIV/AIDS magazine, the mission of Art & Understanding is to collect, archive, publish and distribute the growing body of art, activism, and current events emanating from the AIDS pandemic. It was created for the HIV-affected community. The editors are interested in publishing articles about AIDS-related advocacy, treatment and care, community-based organizations and campaigns, and artists and creative writers responding to the pandemic. The editors are looking for writers of all serostatuses to help use showcase a wide range of perspectives about living with HIV/AIDS. A&U publishes feature articles, viewpoint/essays, reviews, and literary submissions - poetry, fiction, drama, creative nonfiction, as well as visual works. For more information, visit the A&U submissions guidelines page.
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Open Book Toronto: What is the best thing about being a poet….and what is the worst?

Janice Tokar: Best two things: the heightened flow state on those rare occasions when a poem catches fire and words spontaneously pour out; the creative and generous people I’ve met through writing. Worst two things: being stuck with a line mid-poem that has the exact right words but the wrong rhythm; the inevitable self-doubt and second-guessing that flutters about after I press SEND.

the rest of the interview on Open Book Toronto, "celebrating and profiles Toronto and Ontario's non-stop literary scene, with a special focus on the books and events produced by Ontario's independent, Canadian-owned publishers."
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Brevity: A Journal of Concise Literary Nonfiction published online regularly features insightful craft essays with each issue. With the emphasis on "brief" (under 750 words) nonfiction, the essays allow authors more word count to explore aspects of writing. The May 2014 issue includes "Can You Hear Me Now? How Reading Our Writing Aloud Informs Audiences and Ourselves" by Kate Carroll de Gutes, "The Editor at the Breakfast Table" by Charles J. Shields - a perspective on the need for writers to both seek and be receptive to feedback, and "The Nose Knows: How Smells Can Connect Us to the Past and Lead Us to the Page" by Jeremy B. Jones, in which he explores "how our awareness of the undeniable connection between scent and the past helps us to come upon essays. How might our noses get us to the page?"
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Glimmer Train has just chosen the winning stories for their May Short Story Award for New Writers. This competition is held quarterly and is open to all writers whose fiction has not appeared in a print publication with a circulation greater than 5000. The next Short Story Award competition will take place in August. Glimmer Train’s monthly submission calendar may be viewed here.

1st place goes to Caro Clark [pictured] of Wakefield, RI. She wins $1500 for “The Kind I Really Am” and her story will be published in Issue 94 of Glimmer Train Stories. This is Caro’s first published story.

2nd place goes to Robert Kirkbride of Chicago, IL. He wins $500 for “These Things.”

3rd place goes to Gaetan Sgro of Chicago, IL. He wins $300 for “We Are All Snowflakes and Cities.”

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

Deadline soon approaching! Very Short Fiction Award: July 31
This competition is held quarterly, and 1st place has been increased to $1500 plus publication in the journal. It’s open to all writers, with no theme restrictions, and the word count must not exceed 3000. Click here for complete guidelines.

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