In this 2017 essay from the LA Review of Books blog, widely published poet and critic Kristina Marie Darling advises reviewers how to be mindful of privilege and subjectivity when critiquing a poetry book, particularly one by a less-established author. She warns against inferring psychological or autobiographical details from authors' published work. The essay contends that the best reviews are those that situate the book in its own aesthetic tradition and point the book toward the audience most likely to appreciate it.
Reading Well, a project of The Reading Agency in the UK, recommends books to help you understand and manage your health and wellbeing. Their booklist for children features titles aimed at ages 7-11 on topics such as anxiety, mindfulness, emotional regulation, bereavement, bullying, and having a disability.
Searchable full text of many classic works of English and American literature.
Offices in London, Brussels, Hong Kong, Paris, Stockholm and The Hague. Bird & Bird rescued the URL of The Poetry Society when it was snapped up by a commercial firm. They also have copyright expertise and were recently successful in the High Court acting on behalf of the estate of James Joyce in a copyright infringement case against Macmillan Publishers. The latter had published a "reader's edition" of Ulysses. Ask for Jane Mutimear, intellectual property and Internet expert, firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Trish Hopkinson
I am fleeing.
I am my typewriter.
I am green.
I am my childhood.
I am wonder.
I am the dream
of innocence in Wonderland
and I am Tom Sawyer
and I am birth, music, sound
and I am reconstructed
happiness, the storms of life
and eternal life discovered.
I am anxiously new.
I am like rain
and I am the earth
and I am salvation waiting
to be called.
I am perpetually new again.
I am the channel.
Really, I am.
I am the state of revival,
a birth of wonder—
perpetually, I am.
I am anarchy.
I am waiting to up and fly.
I am a new discovery.
I am someone
and I am,
I am waiting.
—a found poem in reverse of Lawrence Ferlinghetti's "I Am Waiting"
Originally published by Silver Birch Press
This essay by poet Marcus Goodyear from the magazine Books & Culture celebrates the playful spirit in poetry and contends that it can be a necessary leaven for poems that address difficult themes.
Lesbian poet's first collection moves easily between the erotic and the elegiac in a voice that is fresh and wide-open as her Cape Cod landscape. Braverman invites the reader into a community of friends and lovers who embrace life despite the risk of loss. Elegantly designed by Perugia Press, this book won their 2002 contest as well as the Publishing Triangle Audre Lorde Poetry Prize.
By K.A. Jagai
My father was not the oldest,
but he was the brightest
boy and so he was sent first
to America. Despite how far
he crawls from Guyana
he will never scrape the wet
earth roads from his feet,
never scrub his pink tongue
of coolie colloquialism.
When I pass down stories
of a back home I have never seen,
my tongue slips quickly
into Caribbean. My father,
terrified of himself, still says
close the lights and tirty tird.
He is a staunch republican.
He once refused to hire a Trini
temp because she had heard
it hiding behind sharp white
enamel, too. How dare she, he asked
my mother. How dare she?
My family came here as
paper sons and through air-
ports requiring cash
in brown paper bags
my mother borrowed to save
a thankless man's brothers.
My mother's hands, a long
fingered daughter of those who fled
burning torches of red
revolution. She did not ask
for much. A loving man. A man
who would give up everything
as her father, and his father before
him, all the way up the chain—
a long line of noble Chinese men.
My mother was born in China-
town. New York City is all
the home she knows. They call
her zuk-sing, empty shell,
Chinese on the outside and
hollow within. She was
gentrified out of Brooklyn last
year—rising rents and Rag
and Bone encroaching, slowly,
slowly, she watches as the stores
filled with pastries and duck
hanging neck-wrung in clouded
windows falls away, replaced
by sleek NYU façades and
rowdy bars. She takes my white
midwestern girlfriend by the hand
and points: Look, there. Do
you see? It's all gone.
Here is the beautiful
thing about being a
child bridging worlds
you don't know: the women
are strong in all the same ways,
and yet carry their wrinkles
like maps. Here is where I
fought a brawling student
off with words. He had a cutlass.
I was pregnant, the size
of a planet. I contained the
world and more within me,
and I won. By God, I won.
Here is where I fought a man
who wanted to take from me
what was not his to take. I
was fifteen. Here is the scar
I saw in a young boy's side
left from a knife brawl.
New York was different then.
It wasn't safe for us.
But is it safe for us, now,
I want to ask them.
My mother's missing finger-
tip tells no tales. She is voting
for Hillary. She is sick of white
men ruining everything all
of the time. She wants
a better life for herself.
She does not think of dying brown
children in far-off lands. She is too
fearful for her own son, of his being
shot to care about the abstract.
What do you have against
allies? a white girl asks
in an online forum.
Nothing, I do not say to her.
I have nothing against
your empathy at all.
Red Stag Fulfillment is a popular e-commerce fulfillment company, helping web-based businesses track orders and deliver products. In this 2017 article, they offer brief reviews of 85 sites for finding stock photos for your blog, online store, or promotional materials.
The biannual online journal Redheaded Stepchild only accepts poetry that was rejected by other magazines. During the months of February and August, submit 3-5 unpublished poems that have been rejected elsewhere, with the names of the magazines that rejected the poems. They do not want multiple submissions, so please wait for a response to your first submission before you submit again.
Reedsy is an online author community that helps writers connect with editors, designers, reviewers, and marketing professionals. This article on the Reedsy blog provides a good overview of literary scams and how to avoid them. Topics include traditional versus vanity presses, warning signs of a scam contest, and finding a reputable agent.
Reedsy is a networking and resource site for book marketing. This curated list features 174 book review blogs that were active as of 2017, searchable by genre and openness to indie books (self-published and print-on-demand).
By Thea Biesheuvel
A mighty fortress, in her chair
my mother sits, exists
within her room, her square.
She chats about her skin, her hair,
the home she missed
when this became her Unit.
Her unitary state approved,
though she's the keystone of our arc.
could never be extracted. She's removed.
The solitary matriarch.
The strength comes from within, her base
our family tree of old,
possession still of her antiques, kind face,
a stubborn faith, foreign Dutch place,
some chairs, bed-end, papers with mould
piled up where they might fit.
Things not for use, or not for her
a stack of memories, an image,
a way things never were
while she was still that personage.
Her children's kids provide a cause
of satisfaction, or disdain
their gifts, a 'lekker koekie', the silent pause
when they don't come, the source
of casual pleasure or deep pain
though this she won't admit.
Her photos serve as proof complete
that once she was, had once a life
and house, real bricks and mortar in a street,
was once a valued wife.
As chaff before a breeze she's blown
away from usefulness and roots.
Her house pulled down, her children grown.
Walled off from life, she sits alone
with memories her servants; idly puts
another bouquet near the bed-side phone.
Between the present and those gone she flits;
A mighty fortress once, now just a ruin.
The ancient landscape of her life befits
the castle of a queen deposed too soon.
"In an effort to never offend, too many Christian publications fail to express the power of a real Christ in a real world, opting instead for clichés and placating expressions of the ideal. Relief seeks to bridge the gap between mainstream fiction and cotton-candy Christianity. Christ's goal was never to keep us sheltered and comfortable. He did not pull his punches. The primary measuring stick for good Christian writing cannot continue to be safety. It must be skill - the ability to expose what is real, express it eloquently, punch the reader."
By Mark Fleisher
A granite slash black as onyx
slices across the earthen path,
seemingly endless in the morning light,
names carved and chiseled into the stone,
58,307—the populations of Royal Oak
and Dearborn Heights in Michigan,
of Federal Way in Washington.
Rick is present and accounted for
on Panel 40e, Row 12
19 days from home;
There's John, Row 54 on Panel 40e,
a month served, recently graduated
from his teenage years.
I know them, I know the others,
not by name, but by kinship.
They gave me a medal,
a star of bronze suspended
from a red, white and blue ribbon,
then they took the medal back,
not enough to go around, they said.
The numbers game, again.
They insisted I fill out
a hometown news release,
even when I said my
big city newspaper wouldn't
give a damn about my medal.
And who cared about
the trauma embedded
forever in my mind
or the poison
sprayed into my cells?
The numbers game, again.
Rick and John,
they got medals, too
P as in Purple, H as in Heart,
PH for Posthumous,
No hometown news releases
to California—Sun Valley for Rick,
Redwood City for John.
Didn't know John came from Redwood City
until I looked it up the other day,
found his name on a war memorial.
I didn't know any of that when
we drove into town that October day,
parked the car, had a coffee at Starbucks,
then drove away...I wish I knew.
A couple of guys among the many
caught up in the damned numbers game.
The numbers don't tell the stories
of how many more with
shattered minds and broken bodies
struggled with their aftermaths
Uncle Ho and Uncle Sam arm wrestled,
slogging through rice paddies,
slashing through jungle,
sloshing through Delta swamp
And Uncle Ho won the struggle—
Hey, It's not JFK City,
It's not LBJ City,
It's not RMN City,
It's Ho Chi Minh City
Now more than 6,800 from new conflicts
await their monument proclaiming
their sacrifice to an uncertain cause,
heroes absent from Christmas dinner tables,
Chanukkah festivities, Native feast days,
celebrations of Our Lady.
Only 6,800—how dare I say only
for each is a lost treasure
known to me through kinship
and by a father's grieving eyes.
We excel at building monuments
to failures, convincing our conscience
absolution is granted.
Reprinted from Obituaries of the Living, co-authored by Mark Fleisher & Dante Berry; email the author for purchasing information
By Joseph Stanton
The way out or the way in
might be a jagged hole
that breaks through
where you need to go,
despite the door
you might simply have opened.
Your advance cracks
a passage unexpected into
a darkness grim and oddly inviting.
The floorboards carry you forward
as if yours were an ordinary life,
while the absence of light
in the place that waits
would seem to be horrific
and comic all at once,
like the life-and-death
exits of Bugs Bunny
and Road Runner that rely
through which no nemesis
SeatUp is a vendor of luxury home theater seating. Their blog features numerous articles on entertainment and the arts. This post briefly surveys changing attitudes toward the LGBTQ community as portrayed in the media, followed by a helpful guide to inclusive language and links to activist organizations. A good starting point for reflecting on how your writing depicts sexual and gender diversity.
In this 2017 essay in LitReactor, K. Tempest Bradford shares tips for creating a diverse cast of characters and avoiding stereotypes in fiction. Bradford teaches classes on "Writing the Other" with Nisi Shaw, co-author of the foundational book on the subject. This article includes links to related anthologies and essays.
Comprehensive site from the University of Toronto Library features a glossary of poetic terms, a daily calendar of events in the lives of famous poets, poetry critiques, and extensive poetry archives. Site is indexed by poem titles, first lines, last lines, author names, keywords and more.
By Patrick T. Reardon. Plain-spoken and poignant, this memoir in verse pays tribute to a brother who committed suicide, and ponders the unanswerable question of why some survive a loveless upbringing and others succumb. Pat and David were the eldest of 14 children born in the 1950s-60s to an Irish-Catholic family in Chicago. Immersion in the church trained the author to search for sacred beauty in times of suffering and mystery, yet the weight of parental and religious judgments overwhelmed his brother. The collection is illustrated with archival family photos that prompt the poet's hindsight search for clues to their fate.
it seems pointless to speak of individuals
when there are so many of us
with lines blurred between one and the other
a chain of unremarkable events
in China from the train every town was the same
with one main street and its colored flags
identical to all the others
and if the town was big enough
a mob of Citroens and rainbow colored lights
every village was a repetition of fields
(no wonder the Chinese call the world "thirty fields")
any mule in the field the same as one
in the streets of Beijing
every red brick identical and
green and blue glass strewn in great reefs
from high rise to hovel
every Russian tourist
was the same
being a molecule from which it
is possible to extract many units of sameness
consisting of a man with a gold watch
a bleached blonde and a red-tinted brunette
each in mink coats
a friend asks me what was the most surprising thing about China
because he wants me to say it is so much like America
but he doesn't realize I already knew this
and couldn't see the novelty in
the disappearance of Beijing's nameless neighborhoods
once hidden in the labyrinthine groves of sycamores
their ghosts behind miles of grey cement
"They're just like us in so many ways," he says.
Copyright 2009 by Ellyn Scott
Critique by Jendi Reiter
Ellyn Scott's "Reseau" intrigued me on a first reading and revealed new dimensions when I returned to it. It's a cleverly self-undermining poem whose believable depiction of foreign landscapes and their inhabitants is at odds with its theme of human uniformity. This embedded contradiction should prompt us to second-guess our own impressions of the people we see through this opinionated narrator's eyes.
The online dictionary at Answers.com defines a "reseau" as "a reference grid of fine lines forming uniform squares on a photographic plate or print, used to aid in measurement", or "a mosaic screen of fine lines of three colors, used in color photography". In the context of the poem, the reseau may be a metaphor for the interpretive framework that the narrator seeks, in which she can organize her impressions of people who seem quite distinct from her, yet monotonously identical to one another. The idea with which she opens her travelogue—that the collective is more real than the individual—is her "reseau", the grid whose regularity perhaps makes it a foregone conclusion that she will see uniformity wherever she looks.
It seems more than coincidental that the two nationalities she mentions, the Chinese and the Russians, were both under Communist rule for most of the 20th century (as China still is, at least in name), and both are currently governed by regimes that would be described as authoritarian by Western standards. A common cultural stereotype during the Cold War represented Communist countries as peopled by faceless masses, unlike the free and diverse individuals of the United States.
Thus, when the apparently solitary narrator asserts that "it seems pointless to speak of individuals/when there are so many of us/countless likenesses," to what extent are her observations of China already conditioned by subconscious expectations of this political difference between their country and hers? Overlaying her "reseau" on their lives seen "from the train" (i.e. detached from them, merely passing through), she unconsciously mimics the leaders who hoped to impose scientific, modern, impersonal administration on a nation of peasants.
An entire stanza of abstractions is often a weak beginning for a poem, which is why "Reseau" did not completely win me over on first reading. My interest was piqued when Scott began telling me things I didn't know about the Chinese landscape, those unexpected details that seemed to carry the authority of first-hand observations: the "one main street and its colored flags" and the "mob of Citroens and rainbow colored lights". The local idiom ("thirty fields") and the quaintly incongruous Beijing mule—something we would hardly find in a major American city—are further proof that we are hearing about a real, and different, country. Upon rereading, I had more appreciation for the opening lines as a framing device for the facts that follow.
I had mixed feelings about the description of the Russian tourists. While plausible and amusing, it had a whiff of unfriendly caricature that made me question whether the author was reaching for an easy stereotype, in contrast to the fresh observations of the Chinese. However, as a character in the poem, the narrator may be projecting onto the Russians her contempt for the tourist's role that she and her friend also occupy. Certainly the poem takes a sarcastic turn here that continues to the end, though not without a touch of tenderness for the "ghosts" of "Beijing's nameless neighborhoods". Who is the subject of the lyrical lines of the penultimate stanza? That is, which of them (the narrator or her friend) "couldn't see the novelty" in the erasure of traditional neighborhoods by ugly cement behemoths? I would suggest changing "and couldn't" to "he couldn't" or "I couldn't" to make this clear.
As I interpret this section of the poem, the narrator's friend means to compliment China, in a patronizing sort of way, by comparing it to America: "They're just like us in so many ways," a cliché the narrator lets stand without comment, assuming its fatuousness will be evident. Meanwhile she herself observes a more unwelcome similarity between the two nations: "[ I ] couldn't see the novelty" in China's transformation because we Americans are equally prone to pave over our natural treasures and disrupt settled folkways with urbanization.
Can we, perhaps, find in this poem the suggestion of a further difference, between two styles of uniformity—the pre-individualist culture of the rural poor, which yet has some austere beauty, versus the cold mechanical "reseau" of modern urban planning and the market forces personified by the crass, moneyed Russian tourists? Or does any collective generalization by an outsider underscore the separation between the interpreter and her subject, no matter what she concludes? Scott's poem teases us with its well-realized characters and setting, while making us question whether what we see is really another culture or a reflection of our own preoccupations.
Where could a poem like "Reseau" be submitted? The following contests may be of interest:
Connecticut River Review Annual Poetry Contest
Postmark Deadline: February 28
Long-running contest from the Connecticut Poetry Society offers prizes up to $400 for unpublished poems up to 80 lines
Tiger's Eye Poetry Contest
Postmark Deadline: February 28
Semiannual journal offers top prize of $500 for unpublished poems
Oregon State Poetry Association Contests
Postmark Deadline: March 1
Twice-yearly contest offers top prizes of $50-$100 in categories including traditional verse, humor, open theme
National Federation of State Poetry Societies Awards
Postmark Deadline: March 15
Founders Award of $1,500 plus 49 smaller prizes for poems in various styles and themes (some are members-only); no simultaneous submissions
Fish International Poetry Prize
Entries must be received by March 30
Irish independent publisher offers prizes up to 500 euros and a reading at their West Cork literary festival; mailed and online entries accepted
This poem and critique appeared in the February 2009 issue of Winning Writers Newsletter (subscribe free).
This 2014 post from the blog of poet Nancy Chen Long features links to books and articles with advice on organizing your poems into a coherent manuscript. Authors cited include award-winning poets Jamaal May and Alberto Ríos, Tupelo Press publisher Jeffrey Levine, and Two Sylvias Press publisher Kelli Russell Agodon.
By Meg Eden
You are not welcome here.
You are contaminated.
You have radiation in your skin.
You breathed in that nuclear air.
You are contaminated;
a power plant lives in you now.
There's already radiation in your skin,
and I can't risk you rubbing off on me.
You carry that power plant inside you,
but we are genki here,
and I can't risk you rubbing off on us.
We want to live—
We are genki here, but
he who mixes with vermillion turns red.
I want to live,
I don't want to think about Fukushima.
Mixed with red ink, anything becomes red.
It can't be helped.
I don't want to think about Fukushima.
There are places for that sort of thing.
Shikata ga nai.
You breathed in that nuclear air.
There are places for that sort of thing, but
you are not welcome here.
(genki = healthy, well)
Poets & Writers Magazine maintains this searchable database of periodicals and websites that publish book reviews. Find out where to send review copies, what genres are accepted, whether self-published books will be reviewed, and more.
Erotica writer and social issues blogger Xan West maintains this list of contemporary books on transgender and non-binary themes, with links to reviews by transgender and non-binary readers. West created the list because cisgender reviewers are not always in a position to recognize whether a book's portrayal of trans and non-binary experience is misinformed or offensive. Authors creating gender-variant characters would do well to educate themselves by browsing the relevant reviews.
RHINO is a well-regarded poetry journal established in the 1970s. Their handsomely designed online archive features selections from back issues up to 2015, with more to come.
Rhyme Desk is an interactive writing tool for poets, songwriters, and copywriters. Type in a word or phrase, then use the search buttons to count syllables, generate exact and slant rhymes, or find synonyms and antonyms. You can also use it to share your writing on Facebook and Twitter.
J. Paul Dyson, editor of FirstWriter magazine, discusses how to integrate rhyme more effectively into your poem and choose the right style for your subject. Too often, says Dyson, beginning poets focus solely on making the lines rhyme, at the expense of word choice and flow.
Richard Jeffrey Newman is a contemporary American poet and essayist, trauma activist, and translator of classical Persian literature. His blog discusses such topics as feminism, healing for male survivors of sexual abuse, literary criticism, and the relevance of classical Persian poetry to our contemporary lives. He is also a contributor to the current affairs blog Amptoons.
from flints flung off
cliffs where crags snag
fledglings came my seed,
buried, until as sapling
i spiraled off ground. air
feeds me but it turns
poison when i exhale, cracks
when as blossom i break,
feigning petulance. i am crowned
when i abscond words.
i bear fruit when my
flesh oozes. my dreams
drip when birds hang where i gaze
on a promise; moons that sprout on my limbs i count as wings
wear out the sun, singe my heart
a thousand times. but always
at dawn i bud.
Copyright 2008 by Alegria Imperial
Critique by Jendi Reiter
Alegria Imperial returns to our pages with the haunting lyric "Riddle", which explores how creativity is conjoined with suffering. In the beginning of the poem, the speaker's barrenness of spirit is bitterly contrasted to the abundance of life that surrounds and inspires her. Yet out of this failure, paradoxically, she creates this eloquent poem, following in the tradition of Gerard Manley Hopkins' "dark sonnets" and John Milton's "On His Blindness" ("When I consider how my light is spent...")
What is the riddle this poem poses? To begin with, there is the bafflement that the artist faces when her gift, already mysterious in its origins and operation, suddenly and inexplicably fails her. This blockage is accompanied by shame and sorrow when it seems to her that she cannot offer a worthy response to the beauty she perceives: "air/feeds me but it turns/poison when I exhale, cracks/when as blossom I break". The riddle might be, how can so much splendor fail to nourish me, how can it produce only this stunted growth?
The alliterative opening lines suggest that the speaker was not expecting a shortcut to inspiration. "from flints flung off/cliffs where crags snag/fledglings came my seed,/buried, until as sapling/i spiraled off ground". These lines are dense with F, G and S sounds, conjuring up a rough terrain of hard stones and hissing winds. The speaker nurtured her "seed" patiently in a harsh environment where naive "fledglings" are battered against the rocks. Shouldn't this effort be recompensed? We come up against another riddle, a more unsettling question: is the struggle worthwhile?
I wasn't sure what the poet meant by "I am crowned/when I abscond words." Perhaps she was trying to express the irony that she flourishes only when she renounces speech, the essence of herself. She is "crowned", perhaps praised for her talents, at a time when she feels they have deserted her. "Crowned" also suggests a tree or flower reaching full bloom.
The meaning can be inferred from the context, but I don't think "abscond" is exactly the right word. To abscond means to leave quickly and secretly, generally in order to escape punishment. A better word might be "abjure" or "renounce". Alternately, add a "from" after "abscond" to clarify that she is fleeing from language (abscond usually needs a preposition rather than taking a direct object).
I was also a little confused about the subject of "feigning petulance". Grammatically, it is unclear who is feigning, the air or the speaker. From the speaker's overall tone of anguished sincerity, it seems most likely that the air is playing cruel games, teasing her by withdrawing at the very moment when the long-awaited blossom opens.
The gorgeous, wrenching lines "i bear fruit when my/flesh oozes. my dreams/drip when birds hang where i gaze/on a promise" call up images of crucifixion or Promethean bondage. Like another tragic hero, Atlas, the speaker holds up "moons" on her arms, which become wings, the sign of transformation into the more-than-human. The poem pivots on this moment where the greatest agony coincides with the first sign of renewed fertility. Many cultures have myths of a god or hero who is sacrificed to make the crops grow. The eternal interdependence of life and death is creativity's ultimate "riddle".
Where could a poem like "Riddle" be submitted? The following contests may be of interest:
Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Annual Poetry Prizes
Entries must be received by October 18
Prizes up to $10,000 and web publication for short lyric poems "celebrating the spirit of life" by authors under age 40
Lumina National Writing Contest
Postmark Deadline: November 15
Prizes up to $500 from the literary journal of Sarah Lawrence College; contest alternates annually between unpublished poems (the 2008 category), short fiction, and nonfiction
The Plough Prize
Entries must be received by November 30
Prizes up to 500 pounds for short poems; contest is a fundraiser for the Plough Arts Centre, a UK arts organization
Writers' Circle Poetry Competition
Postmark Deadline: December 29
Rhode Island writers' group offers prizes up to $200 for unpublished poems by residents of the US and Canada
Heart Poetry Award
Postmark Deadline: December 31
Thrice-yearly award of $500 for unpublished free verse, from a small independent journal that publishes fresh, original and inspiring writing
This poem and critique appeared in the October 2008 issue of Winning Writers Newsletter (subscribe free).
Imagine the Bhagavad-Gita as a Punch-and-Judy show. What do the legend of St. Eustace and particle physics have in common? In this unique novel, part mystical treatise and part fantasy-horror fiction, two millennia have passed since a nuclear war knocked Britain back to the Iron Age, and a semi-nomadic civilization has preserved only degraded fragments of our science through oral tradition in the form of puppet shows. Our narrator, 12-year-old Riddley, at first joins forces with a shifting (and shifty) cast of politicos and visionaries who hope to bring the human race back to its former glory by rediscovering the recipe for gunpowder. But soon he's on the track of bigger game: the nature of reality, and the causes of sin. Which is more fundamental, unity or duality? Why does Punch always want to kill the baby?
Alexander Limberg's blog Ride the Pen features craft essays based on great works of literature. Learn about using realism to sell a fantastical premise by studying Kafka's "Metamorphosis", or analyze the effective use of subtext and theme via Chekov's "Cherry Orchard". Each essay ends with a writing prompt.
By Fathima E.V.
Sinews and blood coursing
In determined lunges of joy
In the dance of fate
Limbs arrayed in freefall
Tangled swirls, hand in hand
In its circle of joy
Naked, earth rejoicing
Matisse, your figures dancing
In an abandon of vitality
The momentum of the rocking
Pulse trapped in its unreason
Insane, insane does leap
Heady joy swelled buoyant.
Ritual of desire, ringed
The thrums of legs and hands
The sheer vigour of buttocks
Going astray before being pulled into
The current of the merry go round.
Lightning touched limbs
In a tenuous balance of grace
stepping in unison, caught forever in
the intimacy of moon lured trysts
its luminous permanence aglow
in orange, blue and nude green
Careening, yet grave with a purpose
In a paroxysm of desire
That loathe to be revealed
Explore the freakatorium that is the English language. Contronyms are words that are their own antonyms. To cleave, for example, can mean to separate or to adhere. Insinuate bizarre new additions into your vocabulary. A hoyden, you'll learn, will seldom infucate. Then there are the conflicting proverbs. We also love Crazy Libs, another site by the same person. Together we amended the constitution as follows: We the waffles of the United States, in order to grope a more mushy filing cabinet,/wallop insanity, nuzzle conniving hunger, yell for the silky lust, bonk the greasy charisma, and ridicule the blessings of arrogance to ourselves and our frigidity,/do smack and defenestrate this wig for the United States of America.
A good place to check for complaints about contests and publishers.
Poet, workshop leader, and activist Robert McDowell writes and teaches about the spiritual side of creativity and reclaiming the divine feminine. McDowell's books include Poetry as Spiritual Practice and The More We Get Together: The Sexual and Spiritual Language of Love. He has edited anthologies on topics as diverse as cowboy poetry and the postmodern poet-critics of the 1980s.
The journal was launched in 2004 to find a middle ground between "the narrow religious market, which is driven more by theology than literary quality, and the literary world which is often dismissive of faith." Contributors include award-winning writers such as Ellen Bass, Luci Shaw, Sydney Lea, and Susanna Childress. Rock & Sling suspended operations in fall 2008, then re-launched in summer 2010 with new editors under the auspices of Whitworth University, a Presbyterian college in Spokane, WA.
Rock Thoughts is an international collaborative art and storytelling project designed to empower children through creativity. Participating individuals paint "monster" rocks and hide them in public spaces for others to find. The rocks serve as plot devices for the finders who submit a story for that rock. The rock is then re-hidden for another to find and continue the narrative. Users are encouraged to submit comments, feedback and suggestions on how to further develop the story.
This Naxos Audiobooks abridgment dramatizes key episodes in the Roman Republic's transition to dictatorship, with lessons about pride, honor, and worldly vanity that are still relevant today. Plutarch pioneered the genre of biography in the West with his lives of Greek and Roman leaders.
By Johnmichael Simon
Mister J.P. Hornbill, ninety fast approaching,
reading glasses unreliable as foglamps blinking,
has taken to watching movies from some wondrously
benevolent provider of purloined celluloid, streaming
down to his rusting yet still functioning computer
And like the zipped-up overcoated teenage dreamer
he never has relinquished, chooses Romance as his
favorite genre and watches, eyes misting up his specs,
how in script after metropolitan script, the camera focuses
on yet another pair of star-crossed strangers
Young and good looking, bumping unexpectedly, yet
also quite predictably, into each other, locking eyes
for a short magnetic moment, exchanging a word or two
on this or that, and having kindled in us a spark
That Mister J.P. Hornbill (like hundreds of other
lonely viewers) hopes, fondly imagines, nay is certain,
will within the next two hours become a flame, consuming
time and space, surviving improbable adventures,
partings and re-meetings, losses, tragedies and with
a quite implausible belief in destiny, burn on to help them
find each other once more in scene after scene then part
again, until the final minutes and that inevitable, arms around
each other, lips and tongues entwined, ecstatic moment,
after which the actors' names and all the other collaborators
in this great pretense appear in black and white across the screen
Mister J.P. Hornbill takes off his glasses, wipes his eyes,
prepares for bed. Somewhere, in a dream perhaps, he knows
he'll meet her. Maybe she's not far away now, closing her
computer, brushing her teeth, filling her hot water bottle.
Possibly they'll meet soon he thinks, sit in the back row
munching popcorn look at each other sideways, smile
and exchange a word or two, as strangers sometimes do
In this 2016 article from The Atlantic, health and psychology editor Julie Beck discusses findings that the romantic comedy trope of persistent pursuit makes both men and women more likely to believe that stalking behaviors are an acceptable part of romance. Writers of romance novels, particularly heterosexual romance, should take care not to normalize behavior that would be threatening in real life.
The Rooster Moans Poetry Cooperative offers affordable online writing workshops taught by MacArthur Scholars, MFA professors, literary journal editors, and spoken-word performers. Workshop themes have included the art of revision, explorations of literary forms, emotion versus sentimentality, and poetry inspired by philosophy. "The rooster, like the poet, demands that we listen. The poet, like the rooster, urges everyone to wake up, bear witness, be alive."
Masterful saga of seven generations of an African-American family, beginning with Haley's Gambian ancestor who was kidnapped and sold into slavery in the 18th century. Haley's fictionalized re-creation of their lives is rich with drama, humor, tragedy, political outrage, and love that defies the odds.
Ropeless is a comic, poignant story about an old-fashioned Jewish mama, her mentally disabled son, and a dutiful daughter learning to follow her dreams. Told from multiple first-person perspectives, every character's voice is pitch-perfect. Koretsky is the winner of a dozen literary awards and has received three Pushcart Prize nominations. Fans of Wally Lamb will enjoy this new author.
This small press has a special interest in publishing verse that is attentive to meter and rhyme. Editor David Horowitz has also written several useful guides to marketing your poetry book, available here.
Listen to a podcast of the author reading this war poem at the Poets & Writers Magazine website.
Spring-sets punctuated with toxic bliss
urban upheavals echoing
chants of social miscarriages
leaving bitter/sweet rhythms to plume
like afros from swaying heads
of '60's hippies uncharted
oomps uncharacterized in free meters
thunder out poignant lyricism
soaked in copper tunes
of hydraulic blues to pump
bruised hearts of a people
an audience witness to archetypes
of inner rebellions awash
with anger primed fists rise high
in a singular movement to rattle
against worn out songs of Congress
only to stamp out idle anger
with purpose and causation
garbed in canvas cargos
and a nearly wild top
a trombonist blows life
onto the backs of bold
crisp notes freshly baked
from the morning high
in tune with a common voice
drum beats swell
charging the multitude
flooding a mesmerized crowd
bitten by inequity and frustration
for one last time
vocalized in every guitar riff
ripping chords of rising up
speaking as one
on the play-list for today
a tide of change
one voice one struggle
a wall of sound
[Author's Note: "A spring-set is the list of songs a band will perform at a particular event. Play-list is similar, but a bit more strict—the music played in this list will be performed in a planned arrangement and not often deviated from. Yet, there is always tolerance for flexibility in either list."]
Copyright 2009 by Ryan K. Sauers
Critique by Jendi Reiter
This month's critique poem, "Roster Forever" by Ryan K. Sauers, employs the freewheeling rhythms of jazz and blues to convey the energy of people seeking social change. These improvisational musical styles befit a moment when values are in flux and established political procedures are overwhelmed by a popular uprising.
The poem's title sounds like a rallying cry, as well as an invitation to imagine an ideal society. "Forever" is such a utopian word. With its suggestion of heaven on earth, it sanctifies a temporal political movement by connecting it to timeless values—justice, of course, as well as the beauty and creativity represented by music. "Forever" also holds out the dangerously simple and seductive promise that the problem of injustice could be permanently solved. If only...
Sauers' vibrant and action-packed imagery honors both the light and dark sides of the revolutionary impulse, the thrilling creative ferment as well as its potential to boil over into chaos. We see this duality from the outset in phrases like "toxic bliss" and "bitter/sweet rhythms". The author's lively verb choices convey a passion that pushes beyond conventional speech, finding release in the musical sounds of "oomp" and "plume" and "rattle", in the way that music has always brought into focus and made bearable the overflowing emotions of oppressed people.
Poetry on political themes must find a way to address specific events without seeming dated or flatly journalistic, a feat that Sauers accomplishes. There are enough details to situate us in the 1960s counterculture, an allusion that enriches our experience of the poem with our own brightly colored memories (or fantasies) of that time. However, Sauers' main subject is not the era's specific controversies but the element that maintains its hold on our imaginations: the genuine and spontaneous hope for a better world, one where art and justice could be intimately connected.
The phrase "worn out songs of Congress" exemplifies one successful strategy for addressing current events in a lyric poem, namely, to include them in a magical-realist rather than a naturalistic storyline. Bureaucracy, the antithesis of song, is "co-opted" (to use a good old counterculture word) into an alternative scheme of meaning. Music is the true language, and political doubletalk is judged and rejected according to its higher standard.
The drug scene makes an appearance too, in language that deftly connects the consciousness-transcending effects of music, drugs, and mass uprising (what could be called, in less flattering terms, the "mob mentality"): "a trombonist blows life/onto the backs of bold/crisp notes freshly baked/from the morning high". The people are "moving/speaking as one/fighting forward/not within". Will they be able to distinguish between unity and unreflective conformity? The poem leaves them on the cusp of change, with a predominant mood of optimism. And yet, the title suggests, it is the "roster" that has lasted "forever"—the change itself, or only the music that carries forward the dream of change? Perhaps that question is the poem's invitation to today's activists to keep the song going.
Where could a poem like "Roster Forever" be submitted? The following contests may be of interest:
Poetry 2009 International Poetry Competition (Atlanta Review)
Postmark Deadline: May 8
Highly competitive award offers $2,009 for unpublished poems, plus publication for up to 20 runners-up
Dancing Poetry Contest
Postmark Deadline: May 15
Unique prize offers awards up to $100 plus opportunity to have your poem presented as an interpretive dance at festival in San Francisco
This poem and critique appeared in the April 2009 issue of Winning Writers Newsletter (subscribe free).
Rowena Macdonald is the author of The Threat Level Remains Severe (Aardvark Bureau), a comedic thriller about British politics. In this 2017 essay from Glimmer Train Bulletin, she shares useful tips for writing natural-sounding fictional dialogue.
The handsome photography and inventive mingling of typefaces add to the sense that this magazine is wide open to new perspectives and the free play of the imagination. Ruminate's poetry and prose often address serious subjects, but with a note of hope that is never merely sentimental. Emerging writers welcome.
One of the great soldier-poets of World War I, Brooke was a romantic figure and socialist activist whose social circle included E.M. Forster, Henry James, Virginia Woolf and the Bloomsbury Group. Unlike contemporaries who emphasized the horrors of modern warfare, Brooke wrote of patriotic idealism and comradeship in the face of death. He served in the Navy during WWI and died in 1915, at the age of 28, while stationed in Greece.