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Denise Hill

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American Life in Poetry: Column 561

Here’s a New Year’s poem by Judy Ray, who lives and writes in Tucson. I like the way that common phrase, “the turning of a year,” has suggested to her the turns in a race track. Her most recent book is To Fly Without Wings (Helicon Nine Editions, 2009).

Turning of the Year

We never know if the turn
is into the home stretch.
We call it that—a stretch
of place and time—
with vision of straining,
racing. We acknowledge
each turn with cheers
though we don’t know
how many laps remain.
But we can hope the course
leads on far and clear
while the horses have strength
and balance on their lean legs,
fine-tuned muscles, desire
for the length of the run.
Some may find the year smooth,
others stumble at obstacles
along the way. We never know
if the finish line will be reached
after faltering, slowing,
or in mid-stride, leaping forward.

We do not accept unsolicited submissions. 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 Judy Ray, “Turning of the Year,” from The Whirlybird Anthology of Kansas City Writers, (Whirlybird Press, 2012). Poem reprinted by permission of Judy Ray and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2015 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 Very Short Fiction Award. This competition is held twice a year and is open to all writers for stories with a word count under 3000. The next Very Short Fiction competition will take place in March. Glimmer Train’s monthly submission calendar may be viewed here.

DeCasperFirst place: Anthony DeCasper [pictured], of Chico, CA, wins $1500 for “Redshift.” His story will be published in Issue 99 of Glimmer Train Stories. This is his first story accepted for publication!

Second place: Stefanie Freele, of Geyserville, FL, wins $500 for “Everything But What We Need.” Her story will also appear in an upcoming issue, increasing her prize to $700.

Third place: Parker Young, of Chicago, IL, wins $300 for “Lighter Fluid.”

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

Deadline coming up! Fiction Open: January 2
Glimmer Train hosts this competition twice a year, and first place is $2500 plus publication in the journal. This category has been won by both beginning and veteran writers - all are welcome! There are no theme restrictions. Word count generally ranges from 2000 – 6000, though up to 20,000 is fine. Click here for complete guidelines.

Rules for Writing

December 21, 2015
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S.P. McIntyre offers writers 24 Rules for Writing which are snippets he's gathered from others, including a couple of his own original thoughts as well as a rule about writing rules. Published in the Glimmer Train Bulletin (#107), which is available free online and features craft essays from thier contest winning writers.
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American Life in Poetry: Column 560

The only times I feel truly homicidal are when I see somebody abusing a pet, and I was glad to find this poem so I could get that off my chest. But don’t ever even think about taking a kick at my old dog, Howard. Wesley McNair lives in Maine and is that state’s poet laureate. This is from his book Lovers of the Lost, from David R. Godine. His most recent book is The Lost Child: Ozark Poems, (Godine, 2014).

The Puppy

From down the road, starting up
and stopping once more, the sound
of a puppy on a chain who has not yet
discovered he will spend his life there.
Foolish dog, to forget where he is
and wander until he feels the collar
close fast around his throat, then cry
all over again about the little space
in which he finds himself. Soon,
when there is no grass left in it
and he understands it is all he has,
he will snarl and bark whenever
he senses a threat to it.
Who would believe this small
sorrow could lead to such fury
no one would ever come near him?

We do not accept unsolicited submissions. 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 ©2010 by Wesley McNair, “The Puppy,” from Lovers of the Lost: New & Selected Poems, (David R. Godine, 2010). Poem reprinted by permission of Wesley McNair and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2015 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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What if every poem had its own fragrance, beyond the literal smell of the materiality of the page? What if one could smell a poet’s imaginative, conceptual, intellectual world, the text unfurling into an aroma?

poetry scentedPoetry subscribers can look forward to a fresh scent in their mailboxes this month as The Poetry Foundation has worked with Brooklyn-based perfumery D.S. & Durga to create a custom scent for Jeffrey Skinner’s poem “The Bookshelf of the God of Infinite Space.” Like old-school scratch and sniff, the scent has been added to an insert with the printed poem.

The insert celebrates the poetry and scent exhibition Volatile! hosted at The Poetry Foundation Gallery in Chicago through February 19, 2016. "In Volatile!," the Foundation explains, "curator and design historian Debra Riley Parr presents a number of objects and experiences that invite speculative connections between poetry and scent. Scent artist David Moltz tells the story of a young boy who is transformed into a mythical beast through a series of 12 scents captured beneath 12 glass cloches. Works by artists Amy Radcliffe, Eduardo Kac, and Brian Goeltzenleuchter, poet Anna van Suchtelen, typography artist Ben Van Dyke and ceramicist Seth Bogart are also featured."
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tiana clark2015 Rattle Poetry Prize Winner and Finalists appear in the newest issue or Rattle (#50). Rattle received a record 4,022 entries and roughly 15,000 poems from which the following were chosen.

1st Prize – $10,000 and publication
“Equilibrium” by Tiana Clark [photo by Andrea Yelk]

Finalists – $200 and publication
“Our Beautiful Life When It’s Filled With Shrieks” by Christopher Citro
“Work in Progress” by Rhina P. Espaillat
“The Glance” by Jennifer Givhan
“Morning at the Welfare Office” by Valentina Gnup
“Old Age Requires the Greatest Courage” by Red Hawk
“More Than This” by David Kirby
“Yesterday” by Travis Mossotti
“Sugar Babe” by Cherise A. Pollard
“Deus ex Machina” by Melissa King Rogers
“Elegy” by Patricia Smith

Each of these finalists are also eligible for the $2,000 Readers’ Choice Award, to be selected by entrant and subscriber vote (the voting period is December 1, 2015 – February 15, 2016).

Another nine poems were selected for standard publication, and offered a space in the open section of a future issue: George Bilgere, Christopher Citro, Taylor Collier, Jennifer Givhan, Chris Green, M, S.H. Lohmann, Christine Poreba, and Laura Read.
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The Florida Review 2014 Editors' Awards winners and finalists appear in the newest double issue of TFR (39.1 & 2) Winners receive $1,000 in addition to publication.

Winner: Scott Winokur, "Bristol, Boy"
Finalist: Mary Hutchings, "When Walls Weep"
Finalist: Lones Seiber for "Death in the Aegean"

Winner: Allie Rowbottom, "Resonance," "Burnt," and "Albino Dolphins"
Finalist: Thomas Gibbs, "Beseme Mucho"
Finalist: Stacey Parker Le Melle, "Tonight We Are the Americans"

Winner: Mary Obropta, "Resonance," "Burnt," and "Albino Dolphins"
Finalist: Benjamin Busch, "Sound Wave"
Finalist: Emma Hine, "Big Game"
Finalist: Michael Collins, "Nightmare of Intercourse with Lightning"
Finalist: Angela Belcaster, "Calving in the Ice Storm" and "Lying Low so the Gods Won’t Notice"
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sproutSprout Magazine is an online literary journal publishing social commentary, poetry, fiction, non-fiction, art, and media works by contributors 13-22 years old. While the temptation with such a name as “Sprout” is to clichéd metaphors about tender young growth, such commentary would not be reflective of this publication's focus on real world social issues that demonstrate an awareness of the world from a variety of youth perspectives - bold, raw, and unafraid.

But indeed, the editors themselves choose the word "sprout" as a direct reference to the people they are trying to inspire: young creative minds who have taken root, but have not yet blossomed. As it says in their mission statement: "We are simply a plot of land for seeds to grow." Also, the editors add “we like the color green.” Clearly, some humor is welcome as well.

victoria houThe editors also belong to this community of young creative minds, each with their own already impressive backgrounds of achievement, perspective, and expertise. Founder and Editor-in-Chief Victoria Hou [pictured] is also the Editor-in-Chief of her high school's print magazine and last year won Silver Key for Scholastic's Art & Writing Competition, West Region. Co-managing Editor Sophie Govert is a recent graduate of the Iowa Young Writer's Studio. Her work has been published in her high school's literary magazine, she is secretary of her school's Gender and Sexuality Alliance and a vocal part of the LGBTQ+ community. Co-managing Editor Joonho Jo is an alumnus of the Iowa Young Writer's Studio. Outside of Sprout, he is a staff writer for the oldest preparatory school newspaper in the United States, The Exonian, and writing editor for Pendulum. He won a first place in the Letters About Literature contest in NH, sponsored by The Library of Congress.

It was their combined vision which inspired this literary start-up “to have a space where young minds can share their thoughts and opinions about society through creative expression. As Sprout's mission is to broadcast social commentary, it was fitting to use an online literary platform - a site anyone can access - to showcase the raw art from our contributors.” As such, readers can expect to find “all kinds of meaningful and creative works, each addressing a social or political topic.”

Some recent published works include “On Christianity” (Avery B); “How to Avoid Getting Bullied in Middle School” (Joonho Jo); “The Political Science of Politics and Science” (Nina Tate); “Why You Shouldn’t Make Friends with Monsters” (Fenn De Bont); “Piedmont Needs Feminism”; poetry by Victoria Hou, Allie McGinnis, Mar C., Sophie Govert, Dylan Escobar, Michelle Wang, Kelsey K., Clara Eugene; and art by Catherine Zhao.

Sprout accepts “pretty much any form of creative media” year round, currently publishing a new piece once every two weeks. “Once a submission is received,” Sprout explained to NewPages, “all editors on the editorial board assess the work, seeing if it contains a message that is socially or politically driven. When deemed appropriate and relevant to our mission, the piece is reviewed under a critical lens for grammatical errors, inconsistencies in content, and strength of message.” Authors are then sent a url to their published work, which remains on the site.

Sprout editors hope to increase both their editorial staff and their submissions as they move forward. And, the editors note, they are also looking to compile pieces into an electronic issue for their readership.

Editorial Team Wanted

December 08, 2015
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erica menaDrunken Boat is inviting applications for all of their staff positions for 2016. Drunken Boat is re-launching in 2016 under new editorship: Erica Mena, poet, translator, and book artist [and cat lover], formerly the Managing Editor, will be taking the helm as Editor and Executive Director. As part of this transition, Drunken Boat is strengthening its commitment to being a leading space for writers and artists around the world to publish provocative, experimental, and otherwise difficult work, alongside the exceptional work we have been publishing continuously online for 15 years.

Drunken Boat is issuing an open call for interested writers and artists to join its (currently all-volunteer) staff. Open positions are:

• Poetry Editor, Poetry Assistant Editor, and Poetry Reader
• Non-Fiction Editor, Non-Fiction Assistant Editor, and Non-Fiction Reader
• Fiction Editor, Fiction Assistant Editor, and Fiction Reader
• Art Editor
• Reviews Editor and Reviews Assistant Editor
• Translation Editor, Translation Assistant Editor, and Translation Reader
• Publicity Editor and Publicity Assistant Editor
• Blog Editor and Blog Assistant Editor

For more specific details, view this Googledoc Applications should be received by December 20, 2015 for consideration.

Literary Bohemian Sampler

December 04, 2015
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literary bohemianLiterary Bohemian online literary magazine offers readers "travel-inspired writing," which is a broad invitation to writers. Below is a sampling of three poems from the most recent issue, well worth the travel of clicking your mouse to go read the rest of each along with other poetry and prose.

Thessaloniki, Four a.m.
by Anastasia Vassos

Here they dance with arms raised above their heads
while their legs sink deep in the dusty earth, describing

the arc of some forgotten journey. The middle
of the body suspended like a question.

. . .

Night Becomes Day Over the West
by Megan Foley

These ridiculous, Christ-eyed hares,
projected once or twice through headlights,
wet the highways outside Helena, Montana.

. . .

Fear in Kenya
by Kristina Pfleegor
(after Dorianne Laux)

We were afraid that the ferry across the Mombasa Channel—rusty, overfilled—
would sink on our daily commute to school. We were afraid of growing up,
losing letters in the mail, broken tree branches, thorns in our feet, chiggers,
bees, sea urchins, jellyfish, sharks, riptides, spiders, spitting cobras,
tsetse flies, baboon bites, lice, electric fences, hippos, elephants sitting on our cars,
cockroaches flying into our eyes, geckos jumping off the walls.


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