News from Both Sides of the New Year

Here it is January and I’m already behind on my updates! So, what’s the news?

To start with, you can find my poem, Up, in Volume 4, Chapter 2 of Visual Verse (page 92 if you’re looking through the whole chapter). What sets Visual Verse apart is that they provide a compelling image and invite authors to submit responses to the prompt, whether they be fiction, non-fiction, or poetry. But, as their About Us page states, “Visual Verse is a challenge”: 50-500 words in one hour. This is great, because it keeps writers from over-thinking and over-working. The visual prompts also offer a good cure for writer’s block.

Visual Verse was my last publication of 2016, but I’m also excited about my first publication of 2017. You can find my poem Second-hand or the ghosts of company in Issue 2 of All the Sins. Like Visual Verse, All the Sins is an online journal and, though it’s a new addition to the literary scene, it’s certainly off to a solid start. Coincidentally, Second-hand is one of the poems I was referring to back in September when I discussed the unique and unusual things I’ve found in different used books. Here’s your chance to match the text to its inspiration – an old photo left in a 70 year old Steinbeck novel.

I’ve been working on more than just poetry though. For the first time, a piece of my pi art (which I talked about back in May) is due to appear in an exhibition! In February and March, Surbiton’s Museum of Futures will be hosting The Enemies Project and I’m thrilled to be involved. I’d love to say more, but their site explains it better than I could, so be sure to check it out.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Publication

So, a little while back I announced my publication in Issue 6 of Phantom Drift. But last night, I realized that there was a little mix-up when they were printing the issue and…they didn’t actually include me in it! On their website, I’m listed among the contributors and at the end of the issue, my bio appears with the other authors’ bios, but my poem is nowhere in sight. After a brief chat with the editor, it’s clear that this was just a glitch and it looks like the best way to remedy this honest mistake is to put me in Issue 7. I don’t know when that’ll come out, but as soon as I do, I’ll pass that info along. And, FYI, when I was flipping through Issue 6, I noticed that it had some truly great illustrations; you should really check them out.

Fun for the Whole Family

Last Thursday (6/10/16), I made my way down to The Museum of Futures in Surbiton to celebrate National Poetry Day and what a celebration it was! The whole event was run by Lucy Furlong and she did a fantastic job. Geared toward adults and children alike, the day/evening included activities like Haiku in a Bottle, Messages of Light, Poetry Lucky Dip, and more.

Each of these may seem simple on the surface, but take a second look. Haiku offer a superb introduction to formal poetry. They’re compact, but done well, they can really pack a punch. Also, experiencing the generative power of formal constraints can be a real eye-opener to people who’ve only ever dabbled in free verse.

On the other hand, the Lucky Dip takes an almost Dadaist approach and makes experimentation fun and accessible. Instead of forcing people to write when they don’t think of themselves as authors, it gives them pieces of language to play with. That way, writing becomes a game where people can ask themselves and each other ‘What can we do with these words and sentences? Can we re-order them into something that actually makes sense?’ And, more importantly, ‘Is making sense always the most important thing?’

Sometimes, though, people just need a starting point, a prompt. Left to their own devices, they’ll rack their brains and stare into space, but tell them to write a little note about light and/or light houses and the ideas come pouring out.

To cap off the event, everyone was given an opportunity to read anything that they had worked on, brought along, or prepared for the occasion. Below, you can see some (low quality phone camera) images of the evening and read a few of the things I cooked up while participating. Happy National Poetry Day everyone!

 

For Haiku in a Bottle:

At the beginning

of October, there was rain –

then there were rainbows.

 

For Messages of Light:

In fair weather,

like a Christmas tree

at any other time of year.

 

For the Lucky Dip:

Hey You:

Lots of Love

reverting to a bog in the bracken.

To feel nostalgia for the present; already

he saw the weather written on the pane.

“Oh, come, come, come,” Said the sardine’s mum.

“Pedal at first, then let the road take you down

and lollop round the pick-up truck.

Hey You,

Blossom where the rose should grow.”

Catch my Drift?

Happy National Poetry Day! Why not celebrate with Issue 6 of Phantom Drift? It’s just hit the stands and it features my poem, Sphinx (think Thebes, not Egypt). Be sure to swing by their site and pick up a copy. It’s got great cover art by Irene Hardtwicke Olivieri and the sub-title: The Impression of Irreducible Strangeness. What more could you ask for? Issue 14 of Elbow Room should also be available for purchase any day now, so keep an eye out for that. In it, you’ll find two of my poems: Fundamentalism and Monument. Last but not least, wish me luck. I’ll be debuting a new poem (see my earlier post about things found in old books) tonight at the Museum of Futures’ National Poetry Day event.

e2403c_46b361531b7a4d36afadd93762f8cbc0-mv2_d_2250_2775_s_2

Reshuffling the Deck

Recently, I realized that my Publication History was a mess, so I took some time to revise the layout and make it easier to browse. Now, everything is in reverse chronological order and broken up by year, with my most recent publication announcements at the top. I also put the magazines and online journals that no longer exist down at the bottom in their own section. If you’re interested in what I’ve been up to, please take a minute to check it out.
In the process of doing this little tidy up, I came across a few more publications that have seemingly moved on to the netherworld that awaits knackered lit mags. Orion Headless was an online journal that featured a piece of my photography called New York Scraps. Now that their site has vanished from the web, I thought I’d share that photo here.
The other sad news was regarding This Great Society is Going Smash, which seems to have fallen silent after 2013. Like Orion Headless, it was a digital publication, but it really stood out as being nicely designed and generally well put together. It featured my poem, Opa, at the very beginning of my publication history back in 2011. One of the great things about my interaction with the team behind This Great Society was that they saw the poem’s potential and gave me a chance to rework some of its weaker parts. Not many journals will expend that sort of time and effort on a new writer, but in my case, it was just what the poem needed and they accepted the revised version. They even went so far as to feature it again in their Best of Poetry retrospective. On both of these occasions, Opa appeared alongside a great illustration by Lara Hughes and I thought the two went together nicely. But the piece was intended as a tribute to my grandfather and I’ve always wanted a chance to present the poem with the photo that inspired it, so I’ve included it below.

Opa

Candid photograph, the old man turns his head
too fast for the shutter and he’s transparent.
Chin rests against hands held together.
It’s prophecy, the light’s trick mirrors time.

Ticking like the gold watch around his wrist,
Following the snake, shedding wrinkled skin.
Moon-white hair slicked back, thinned,
and large glasses over dimming eyes.

Following moon-white feathers,
opened wings taking flight, god willing,
undefined, unfettered.

Between the Sheets…of Paper

Have you ever opened up a second-hand book and found something strange left behind by a previous owner? I certainly have. A black & white photograph, a sheet of newspaper from 1959, a letter written in Chinese on Brigham Young University stationary – these aren’t the only things I’ve stumbled across, but they’re the most striking examples. In fact, I found them all so intriguing, I dedicated poems to each one.

The most recent of these poems was inspired by the aforementioned Chinese letter, but the note itself was only one half of my motivation. The other was the approach of October 6th, the UK’s National Poetry Day. Last year, I carelessly let this special occasion pass me by without even noticing it. How embarrassing! I was determined to do better this time around and then I heard about the theme of this year’s festivities: Messages. “This is perfect!” I thought. “I can finally get that letter translated and write something about it!”

Obtaining a translation was an interesting process in and of itself, but the poem is more or less ready now and I’ll be reading it for the first time in Surbiton (or, as I like to call it, Suburb-i-tron) at The Museum of Futures‘ National Poetry Day Celebrations. You can find more information about this event at the Seethingography blog, so be sure to stop by and reacquaint yourself with the world of poetry. And if you’re wondering about the other two poems I wrote about the photo and the newspaper, they’re currently unpublished and looking for a home, so feel free to contact me if you’re interested.

When It Rains, It Pours – Two More Publication Announcements

Trying to get poems published is a strange process. Sometimes, months and months pass without any acceptances or imminent publications to announce, but at other times, the news just seems to pile up all at once! Fortunately, this just happens to be a busy time for my work.

In addition to recently being published in Pioneertown (see my previous post for details), I have a piece called Slow Dance appearing online in Issue 2 of the South Florida Poetry Journal. What I really like about SoFloPoJo, besides the fact that the short form of their name sounds very Judoon, is that they invite authors to include an audio clip alongside their poems. This added dimension provides people with a fuller experience of the poetry and makes it accessible to the visually impaired at the same time. As SoFloPoJo is a relatively new journal, it’s especially important to support them at this early stage of their existence, so be sure to give this issue a thorough read. After all, it’s free!

If you prefer to read tangible print objects, you can get hold of two more of my poems, Inversion and We Pass, in Inwood Indiana’s Reaping issue. Both of these poems draw on the time I spent living in eastern Pennsylvania and I’m excited to share them.

Reaping promises to be a fine collection of writing and it’s available for a modest sum, so consider this: Inwood Indiana is among the first publications I’ve found who’ll actually PAY ME for my work. And what makes that possible? People like you buying the issue. Sometimes, you might hear talk about investing in the arts, but this is the real deal. Buy a literary journal so that they can pay their writers. Simple.

Alright, I’ll get down off of my soap box for now, but just so you know, I should have at least three more publications to announce later this year, so keep checking in for updates.

 

reaping-front-cover

New Poem – Stranger Than Fiction

Newsflash! My poem, Bookworm, has been featured by Pioneertown and you can read it here: http://www.pioneertownlit.com/bookworm

This piece will probably strike some people as surreal or bizarre, but the strangest part about it is that it’s true. I heard the story from a friend of mine who actually encountered this character when he was living in Boston. By the time I sat down to write the poem, quite a few years had passed and I was fuzzy on the details, so I tried to find something a little more concrete online. After a decent amount of digging, I wasn’t having much luck. But then I found this: http://boston.cbslocal.com/2010/11/08/woman-eats-bible-for-spiritual-and-physical-nourishment-part-1/#comments

FYI: the pop-up ads on that site are a nuisance, but if you get past them and you want a little context for the poem, the video is worth a watch.

Of course, it’s not just about me and my poem. Make sure that you browse the rest of Pioneertown’s site and get a feel for the great writing they’re showcasing. As I’ve said before, I couldn’t do what I do without the support of these publications and they can’t do it without your support. So please, check them out.