The Spring 2018 issue of The Bitter Oleander features an in-depth interview with European Editor, poet and translator John Taylor. Editor and Publisher Paul B. Roth delves into a variety of issues and interests with Taylor, including influences on his writing; his bout with polio and interest in mathematics in his youth; the value of "slow" travel - trains being a particular favorite mode of transportation and thought/work space for Taylor; the situation of being an American writer living abroad and the concepts of 'foreignness' and 'otherness'; and the "subtle positivity" of Taylor's writings. The interview is accompanied by over a dozen pages of Taylor's work.
Winners and Honorable Mentions of the 2018 Bellevue Literary Review Prizes can be found in the Spring 2018 issue:
Goldenberg Prize for Fiction
Selected by Geraldine Brooks
Winner: “Atrophy” by Lauren Erin O’Brien
Honorable Mention: “Full Buck Moon” by Sheryl Louise Rivett
Honorable Mention: “Bamboo Forest” by Faith Shearin
Felice Buckvar Prize for Nonfiction
Selected by Rivka Galchen
Winner: “Cancer, So Far” by Elizabeth Crowell
Honorable Mention: “Drawing Blood” by Laura Johnsrude
Honorable Mention: “The Reluctant Sexton” by Martha Wolfe
Marica and Jan Vilcek Prize for Poetry
Selected by Rachel Hadas
Winner: “Throat” by Gabriel Spera
Honorable Mention: “The Game of Catch” by Noah Stetzer
Daniel Liebowitz Prize for Student Writing
Winner: Nonfiction “Portraits” by Janna Minehart
The annual Bellevue Literary Review Prizes award outstanding writing related to themes of health, healing, illness, the mind, and the body. The next contest will close on July 1, 2018.
"If a poem works it’s because you’ve made it such that other people might participate in making it meaningful, and this participation will always rest on another person’s understanding of the poem and its relationship to a world that is not your own. Your own understanding of the poem will evolve over time too, as you reread it in light of your changing world, just as you will find the world altered in light of the poem you wrote to understand a small uncertain corner of it. With poems, you never get to settle on a final meaning for your work, just as you never get to feel settled, finally, as yourself."
From On Poetry and Uncertain Subjects: Learning from the unknown by Jack Underwood in the May 2018 issue of Poetry. Read the rest here.
Last month, DM O'Connor reviewed EJ Koh’s collection of poems Lesser Love. In addition to being selected winner of the Pleiades Press Editors Prize for Poetry in 2017, O’Connor offers this praise: “It is clear that each page stands alone as an example of true contemporary poetry. It is clear you should buy this book, memorize all the poems, then give it to a friend who need to be affirmed that poetry is far from dead.”
At the close of the review, O’Connor notes that Koh will even write love letters to her readers, just for the asking. Intrigued, I visited her website, where she states, “I am writing a thousand love letters to strangers by hand.”
Her July 26, 2016 blog post entitled, “It’s Okay, I Love You” explains how she came to this task, beginning the entry with:
“The past nine months, my life has become unrecognizable. When I say this out loud, it means who I am is unrecognizable. But I now see myself for the first time.
“In February, I hoped to write again; beginning was also deciding. I’d once said, 'I’m sick of writing because I’m sick of myself.' To be kinder towards my person, I didn’t go back to that place. On a Friday evening, I was pressed for new perspective. I decided to handwrite a thousand love letters.”
She goes on to explain why the handwriting, why the love – which seems it needs less explaining in our current world that feels imbued with endless hate.
So, I wrote to EJ. I sent her an e-mail, including some details about myself, as she requests, “& add a struggle,” which I did. A couple weeks later, I received a hand-addressed envelope postmarked from Seattle. By then, I had forgotten about my request, and didn’t know EJ was on the west coast, so I was pleasantly surprised to open the envelope and find a two-page, handwritten “love letter.” Mine was numbered 62, and included thoughtful commentary and insight gleaned from information I had shared with her, including my struggle.
A love letter? If love means reaching out to a total stranger, to recognize the work they do, what they care about and what they are struggling with; to treat someone with concern and care and affirmation; to not judge and to just be kind and share in someone’s perspective with seriousness and some humor – then yes. This was the best love letter I’ve ever received.
What a difference writers can make in another person’s life. And all it takes is who we are and what we have, shared with another. So simple, so (nearly) free, and yet – so profound.
My thanks to EJ. I hope others who share in this experience have as great an appreciation. May we all “promise to notice our light every day.”
The most recent issue of Michigan Quarterly Review (Winter 2018) opens with Associate Editor Keith Taylor's "What is Found There: Poetry at Michigan," commenting on this issue's special feature. He recounts the Spring 2017 200th anniversary celebration at University of Michigan, which included a day-long conference entitled "Poetry at Michigan." This was a "continuation of two symposia done over the previous few years: one on Theodore Roethke, and the other focising on Robert Hayden and his work."
This issue of MQR has now become the even larger discussion of poets and their connections to UofM, including: Donald Hall, "an important professor" at UofM for almost twenty years; an unpublished interview with Seamus Heaney "a regular visitor for almost a quarter of a century, both before and after his Nobel Prize"; Francey Oscherwitz, and undergraduate at the university thirty-five years ago; Hannah Webster, "a recent graduate of the Zell Writing Program," who "writes about her experience with the Prison Creative Arts Project," including works from Michigan prison students; and Bob Hicock, not a UofM grad, but who lived in Ann Arbor for some twenty years, has contributed "a provocative essay on the necessary and inevitable changes happening in contemporary American poetry."
The Greensboro Review Spring 2018 issue features the winners of The Robert Watson Literary Prizes:
Eli Cranor for his story, "Don't Know Tough"
Alison Powell [pictured] for her poem "from The Book of Revelation"
This annual contest awards $1000 for both fiction and poetry as well as publication and closes each year on September 15.
Three poems by Elizabeth Hoover, winner of the Boulevard 2017 Poetry Contest for Emerging Poets, as selected by Contest Judge Edward Nobles, are featured in the newest Spring 2018 issue. Works by honorable mention poets Lea Anderson and Elizabeth Eagle are also included.
This annual contest awards $1,000 and publication for the winning group of three poems by a poet who has not yet published a book of poetry with a nationally distributed press. The current contest is open until June 1, 2018.