My first encounter with Terrance Hayes’s poem “The Blue Terrance” occurred in my car. It was the spring of 2009 and I’d been listening to a CD of an episode of “The Playlist,” the Poetry Foundation’s podcast, on my way from one teaching job to another. The drive from Saratoga to Cupertino took about ten … Continue reading An Appreciation: Terrance Hayes’s “The Blue Terrance”
Definition: An abecedarian poem is one in which verses or words begin with the successive letters of the alphabet. I recently wrote my first abecedarian poem, and while I enjoyed the process, I nearly stalled out when I got to the letter X. Hardly any useful words begin with X. My crumbling, 1965 edition of … Continue reading What About X? Writing the Abecedarian
In this post, I share my method for reviewing books of poetry. My reviews appear twice monthly in my newsletter, Sticks & Stones, which is free to subscribers. I read the whole book several times. First, I read it as if I were not planning to review it. I just enjoy the book. I read … Continue reading How I Review a Poetry Collection
Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit Last week I shared my first post about Twyla Tharp’s wonderful book, The Creative Habit. Here is Part 2. Part 2: Deprivation, picking fights, packages of time, anti-social = pro-creative In her chapter “Accidents Will Happen,” Tharp writes “For my first five years, I choreographed to silence. I had no … Continue reading Dance With Me, Part 2
Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit I’ve read a lot of creativity books, but none quite like The Creative Habit, Learn It and Use It For Life. The author, Twyla Tharp, is a daring and innovative choreographer. Her bio states that she “has choreographed more than one hundred sixty works: one hundred twenty-nine dances, twelve television … Continue reading Dance With Me, Part 1
This is a very useful follow-up to my post of 1/24/18 on researching journals, submitting one’s work, rejection, and becoming a better writer.
Navigating the world of literary magazines was difficult for me in the beginning. I initially set out to publish anywhere, so desperate for publication, I actually Googled easiest literary magazines to the publish in, or something to that extent, and came across visual and literary artist’s Michael Alexander Chaney’s “Top Lit Mags that REALLY do Publish Emerging Authors.” Some of the magazines on his list include Baltimore Review, Bayou Magazine, New England Review, River Teeth. For each one, Chaney includes short anecdotes, quotations, and descriptions—proof essentially—that these top-tier lit mags have, indeed, published emerging writers, and have given some writers their first publications.
Despite, and maybe because of that article, I became more aware of the level of prestige each journal carried, and after a few rejections from them, I decided to aim low, believing I had no chance with those big journals and, even worse, that I…
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But what am I writing? At a reading I gave last week, an audience member asked me if I wrote every day. “Yes,” I said. “I write every single day, even on weekends.” The next day, I started to wonder if I’d given a totally honest answer. The part about writing every day was true, … Continue reading Yes, I Write Every Day
Last Friday, as I spent several hours getting batches of poems ready for submission, I started thinking about the word "submit." Meanings include “give in,” “yield,” “defer,” “succumb,” and “surrender.” If you're a writer hoping to publish work in journals and magazines, these words aren't likely to inspire confidence. Submitting work is an uncertain, often … Continue reading Rejection Brings Out the Best in Me
If you have a resume like mine – degrees in data processing and poetry, early jobs selling candy, shoes, and houseplants, a career in IT (when it was still called “MIS”) and a mid-life shift back to the arts, you might find it challenging to explain how these disparate employment threads led to the person … Continue reading Building a Body of Work
I have a little game I play in bookstores. First I find the poetry section. Then I run my eyes along the shelf, head cocked to the right so I can read the books’ skinny spines. I’m looking for book I’ve never read by an author I’ve never heard of. I’m looking for something new … Continue reading The Bookstore Game