March 18, 2011

When It Rains

I submit a lot. I keep track of all those poems going out and back in a color-coded, detailed, obsessive compulsive playground of an excel sheet. My motto has always been to send much and expect nothing, and to treat the few lucky strikes I've had as merely bonuses. Whenever I get a rejection letter, all it means is that I get to log it into said excel sheet. Although never as much as I do now, I've been sending work out since I was fifteen (a short murder mystery out to the Alfred Hitchcock Award; never heard back from them).

But in all my days of sending work out and having all but a handful of it come back, I've never had so much work rejected in a single 24-hour period.  Starting at around six in the evening and ending with the post woman's arrival around four in the afternoon the next day, I got six rejection letters. It's as if the editors of the world got together and decided to clean out their managers on March 17th. If Saint Patrick can clear Ireland of all its snakes, then by golly so could they.

It may sound like I'm whining, but really, I think it's hilarious. In fact, I was hoping for more. I did get some good news from Washington Square to break up the monotony, which is great because it's a journal I really like and it's a poem that I'm fond of.


In non-poetry news, Brandon & I just got back from a Spring Break trip to Asheville, NC. What a great town! We got to do some hiking, a bit of day-time drinking (don't get me wrong: we drank at night, too), ate lots of vegan food, and spend some time with one of my greatest friends whom I hadn't seen in eighteen months. A nice trip indeed.

March 10, 2011

Shame! Shame! Shame!

The Wisconsin tragedy continues. I'm sure you've all read the news stories, seen Rachel Maddow, and are well-educated on what happened last night. What many from afar may never get the chance to experience is what it feels like to be inside the rotunda when ten thousand people are screaming "Shame! Shame! Shame!" in unison. It's a godly force onto itself, and it makes me think that, despite the money funneling into the Wisconsin Republicans right now from the Koch brothers, despite the squirmy tactics and the overwhelming Republican majority in both the senate and the house, we will win in the end. A flood stops for no one.

I'm trying to gather some thoughts about protest poetry. I'd love to make a handmade chapbook or zine to pass out to the fellow protesters at the Wisconsin Capitol. If you have any favorite protest poems, let me know in the comments box!

In other news, Bobby C. Roger has the poem of the day at Poetry Daily. I just finished reading his book Paper Anniversary (one of my AWP grabs) this week, and it's very, very good. I like how long his lines are, and how he lets his poems marinate and develop slowly. It's not something we see much of anymore. More often, poems seem to be growing shorter, with each line making its own unexpected turn. Roger's work is also surprising, but in a more subtle and perhaps a more skilled way. It's refreshing. 

Headed to Asheville, NC, tomorrow for Spring Break and some much needed sunshine (Wisconsin just got another 5"), although it feels weird to leave the capitol behind for all of six days. I trust the people here won't let democracy die in my absence. 

March 8, 2011

Blogs about Poetry

Since I like reading blogs by poets, I decided I should start my own. If gathering a readership for poetry is difficult enough, then gathering one for a blog about poetry must be fruitless. Alas. At AWP this year, I noted about a dozen poetry collections that had "American" as an adjective in its title, and so I'm no longer titling my manuscript American Shrapnel. But since it won't be my book title, then the least it can be is the title of my blog.

Speaking of the manuscript, I met with my advisor yesterday (Ron Wallace--do you know him? Contender for Sweetest Man Alive award) and I'm at a place with the manuscript where I feel I can start sending it out to a few contests and reading periods later this month. This makes me a little apprehensive, but mostly liberated. I'm sure I'll look at it in six months and ask myself how I ever could be so vain as to think it was ready.

I've been working on some new poems about my childhood speech impediment and dyslexia as well as a series about coal mine disasters. They certainly don't go together (at least not yet) and it might not lead anywhere, but it's nice to be writing about whatever strikes my fancy and not fretting about if it fits my  "project."

Speaking of poems, a few have start to pop up in magazines. For a few months, it seemed all I did was rack up a handful of acceptances that never materialized,  those poems fading away into limbo. But now they're starting to coming out, seemingly all at once. Two of these are online at Drunken Boat and Guernica.

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday. Even though I don't identify as Catholic anymore (though I wear its guilt like a king's robe), I still love the idea of lent and all its moodiness. I've been toying with the idea of going to Mass tomorrow for fun. Do you believe that? I don't either.