Friday, February 29, 2008

When The Poetess is in a Feel-Good Mood

When I'm in a feelgood mood, this is exactly how I feel on the inside. Nevermind that I am in jeans, a lilac blouse and a purple sweater, wearing clunky Danskos. This is who I am in my head, and we all know that's who we really are. And so yes, I am a naughty little minx of a woman in a slinky black dress and almost too-high heels, in red lipstick, lacy matching undies, and swinging one foot from the stool, because I'm short, and my feet never reach the floor. I just dress like this to keep everyone from being overwhelmed.

Feelgood Poem

Lookit how hot I am,
I'm like a big plate of YES
sittin' right here
with my legs crossed
and my eyes narrowed
in my black skirt
and my good bra
tracing your name in the air
with my dangling high heel

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

More Acceptances!

"Disobedience" has been published in volume 5, issue 1 of kaleidowhirl, and is available for public consumption and critique here. Now that it's out I can see a hundred revisions I'd like to make, but I did consider it a personal success, since I rarely like to work in a rhyme scheme.

Quiddity Literary Journal has accepted two poems, "Wavewalk" and "Flagrant" for their inaugural print issue coming out this spring, and I am ecstatic to have placed two pieces in a single publication.

Appalachian Heritage, another print journal, has accepted my poem "Dinner for One," which will appear in the Spring 2008 issue. I'm tickled to place a piece in a Kentucky-based journal, since I spent so many years in the state and still consider it home.

Most of my other submissions have been rejected, though there are a handful I'm still waiting to hear from. It's past time I sent out another spate of submissions, but I've been too exhausted lately, and busy keeping caught up on MFA work. Librarian-type stuff has been keeping me quite busy, and I've got the Meacham Writers' Conference this weekend, but perhaps next weekend I can dedicate solely to writing and sending out submissions. I'm actually quite proud of some of my more recent pieces, and am hoping to place them in good journals.

Anyway, that's the good news for now. I've been so tired that my happy dance has worn off, but when I stop to remember these, I still smile. Yay, publishing! Now, who wants to make me an offer for my chapbooks?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A Letter to my Sister Jezebel

Thanks to the kind words of a friend who provided some feedback on a couple of poems ("For my Unborn Sons" and "For my Unborn Daughters"), I now have Lilith on the brain. You know, Lilith, demon-lady of legend who was Adam's original wife? (All you devout Catholics, cover your ears while the heathens discuss.) Oh yes, according to legend, Adam's first wife was created from earth just as Adam himself was. When the uppity b*tch claimed to be his equal, he ran to God and expressed his dismay. Lilith was schlepped out to the desert (and subsequently turned into a baby-stealing demon by the bookwriters) to make room for the more subservient Eve.

If you know me, you can see why a mention of writing from Lilith's perspective is something I would find attractive. *grin* Anyway, this has a whole new idea stewing in my brain (which hardly has space for new ideas, so some not-so-great ideas have been abandoned to the ether). Hm, writing from Lilith's perspective. The idea fascinates me. I do believe I'm going to give it a shot. I had posted here "A Letter to my Sister Jezebel," but I deleted it while I wrangle with it in the revision stage. I tend to suffer from the plague of trying to tell too much story in a single poem - working on that!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Write the Poem that's Impossible to Write

This is the advice given by Earl Braggs in my workshop. "Write the poem that is impossible to write." It's good advice, since it tells us to stretch beyond the boundaries we have imposed on ourselves, and discover just how good we can be. It's good advice also because it gives us permission to fall short without feeling like utter failures. I know I've felt that way when I've failed to capture what I was after, and wanted to exchange my pen and paper for a hammer and nails and do something else, because I was obviously never going to be a good writer.

I have taken this challenge on, in spades. There is a poem I have always wanted to write, and have shied from, because it's too massive a subject. I will undoubtedly get it wrong. But it burns in me, it keeps me awake, and it niggles at the edges of my mind when I should be concentrating on other things, like how much detergent to put in the washing machine. I want to write an epic poem that captures the voices of women across time, imparts the pride, pain, joy and suffering of women of all colors and backgrounds, and would make each of us proud to stand and recite it. I even have the title: Womansong. probably not terribly original, that, but it encompasses what I want to capture.

I've made a first pass at it, this week. I like parts of it very much, other parts I'm not certain about. It moves through history, but I'm feeling rather shamed for having the hubris to say I can speak for all women. Others have, so I don't know why I'm so reluctant to do so. Should I call out places by name? Should I set it all in the present even though some of the happenstances have passed? Moving back and forth between tenses was annoying me when I re-read it, and I want each of the women that the poem evokes to be alive, so present tense feels more natural for that. Do I have too many biblical references in it? Does the poem lose potency when it's as long as this (currently four pages)? Most of all, who have I left out? I think that's the one I'm most afraid of. I can cull pieces if I must, but I don't want to leave something out that's essential.

I have the feeling this one is going to be a work-in-progress for a very long time. As well it should be, I suppose, for such subject matter. And despite all of my misgivings, I'm pleased to be writing it - writing an Impossible Poem means that it's an important poem. Maybe there is no 'right' way to write such a thing, but acknowledging that it needs to be written - and that yours might be the hand to set it down - is an important step.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Acceptances Galore: A Day of Hearts, Flowers, and Goodwill Towards Editors

Because we, as writers, generally spend our time moping over our mountains of rejections, which I will eventually fall into in this blog, I'm sure, I'd like to take this chance to celebrate a few weeks that have gone really well. My work is being picked up like hotcakes. Which I've never purchased or eaten, but I hear that if your stuff sells like them, it means you're doing well. So, hotcakes it is.

I've had two essays accepted for an anthology, Milestones for American Women: Our Defining Passages. Rumor has it that Knopf may pick it up to publish it, which would be a wonderful coup. That, and the former ALA president is slated to write the afterword. Librarians unite in your bookery! I don't think my prose is as well-formed as my poetry, but I am sincerely flattered that the editors were kind enough to offer some revisions and kind words.

I've been notified that though the Winter 2008 issue of the online journal kaleidowhirl has been slightly delayed, it will indeed be out sometime soon, and my piece "Disobedience" will be published shortly.

Ruminate Magazine will be publishing my poem "Refrigerator Borealis" in its next issue with the theme of 'addiction.'

Upon returning from work this afternoon, I checked my gmail account (which I do compulsively, for all those who care to toss em a line), and was thrilled to find that the editors of Quiddity literary journal want not one, but two of my poems for their inaugural issue for spring 2008. No contract or anything definitive beyond that email yet, so it's not set in stone, but goodness willing, "Flagrant" and "Wavewalk" will soon have a home in an honest-to-goodness university-published print literary journal. Since to date I've been accepted only in online journals and one faith-based print mag, this is a huge occurrence for me, book-snob librarian that I am. (Not that I don't appreciate the online works - I very much do, and appreciate the access they provide. But print is one step closer to my coveted ISBN!)

I'd like to send a warm thanks to all of those editors (who have also received my profuse thanks via email) for their kind words and support. We all know how down we get upon receipt of the form letter rejections in our hastily scrawled SASEs, and I've received a number of those back over the past few weeks as well. But the successes really do outshine the failures, and even one placement gives me the courage to send out a new batch of pieces I am very attached to, even in the face of overwhelming odds. Thank you to all of the kind editors out there - you make writing more fulfilling because you are willing to slog through the mountains of work you receive. Thank you to the subscribers that keep journals in the black (or close to it) so that we can continue to not only get published as writers, but also read our contemporaries' work. And thank you, Lovely Readers, without whom our work would float into the atmosphere, having never been discussed or appreciated.

Yep, I'm in a total Kumbaya mood. A total "let's kiss and hug and all vote for Obama" mood. (At least, I hear that's what happiness feels like.) If I was a supervisor, this would very much be the day that you wanted to ask for a raise. Alas, I hold no such pecuniary powers. You all will have to settle for knowing that I am sending general goodwill vibes into the ether, and wishing you much luck with your own writing.