Becoming the Living Poet

Archive for the ‘Submission’ Category

My funk is officially over, completely chased away by the excitement of my first week of MFA classes. If you’d like to hear more on that topic (of classes, not my funk, my funk is ancient history), please checkout my most recent post over at MFA Chronicles.

Unfortunately, so much has been happening in my offline life that I’ve been letting this blog get a little stagnate. Time to check back in with the goals I’ve discussed for myself and the blog and figure out how to make them compatible with the busy life of an MFAer.

So one big thing I wanted to focus on was getting myself, and anyone else who wants to participate to submit more work for publication.

Here’s my current list of places I’ll be submitting to in the near future:

Transfer Magazine, the nearly one hundred year old publication of SFSU student work has a submission deadline of Sept. 3rd.

contest being held by 13th Moon Press is having a feminist poetry and fiction competition. The deadline is September 8th.

Out of Nothing has a submission deadline of October 1st. I really like their list of topics: the vacuum, salvage / remainders, imaginary spaces possessed of imaginary dimensions, darkness / lightlessness, reduced or infinitesimal means, the exponential, self-abnegating symbols, the blank, obliteration, the inconsequential, refusal, the contentless / general contentlessness, the generic and / or undifferentiated and / or the contra-original, adhesive agents in search of clients to bind, none of the above or below. Sufficive to say it’s a somewhat experimental publication.

Room Magazine is accepting submission on the theme of travel. The deadline is March 15th, 2010.

-I also plan to submit to the Bitter Oleander Press which doesn’t have a submission deadline.

So those are the places I’ll be submitting work. Posting this means I’m committed to getting the submissions typed, stamped, and in the mail.

Post the places you’re planning to submit to in the comments if you want a cheering section and a space to point to and say, See, I’m really going to do this!


In my post, Submission (Not the Kinky Kind) I professed an interest in rejection letter art projects.

Ever since I made that commitment a nagging voice in the back of my head has been telling me not to wait until August to start submitting work. If I’m really serious about amassing a collection of rejection letters that any working writer would be proud of there’s no time like the present.

I thought a good step in the right direction would be figuring out where I wanted to submit work and making a commitment to do so.

Below I will list no more than 3 places I plan to submit work to in the next two months and then I will make it happen.

-On a friend’s recommendation I think I will submit work to Room Magazine. After reading the online samples of poetry the magazine has accepted, some of the work I have in the notebook I brought with me to Denmark could fit the tastes of the magazine, so I could feasibly type of work and send it out tomorrow. I still need to finish my Paris and Barcelona postcards. Perhaps I’ll finish all that this weekend and send it out in one big bundle. I would like to have a submission sent out by the end of next week so I will make that a formal goal.

-I also plan to submit to the Bitter Oleander Press because I like their style and hope they’ll like mine.

-There’s a contest being held by 13th Moon Press that I want to submit to for feminist women poets. A submission is 3 poems no more than 500 lines total. There’s an entry fee, but I have a good feeling about the contest so I’m going to bite the bullet. The deadline is September 8th. Some of the work I want to submit is boxed up in Norcal, but I should be able to just make the deadline when I move to SF.

I’m feeling pretty good about my choices. In the next week we’ll see if I can do the hard part, which is of course, the follow through.

Off topic, caught up on the Practicing Writing posts I was behind on today. Here are a couple of links Erika Dreifus found that I particularly enjoyed:

-Realistic and only slightly disheartening article about one teacher’s rewarding and excruciating experiences teaching high schoolers poetry: D’Oh On A Grecian Urn

Tips on how to obtain a review copy of a book

And very far in this blog’s past I mentioned wanting to revisit some of the poems I liked in high school to try and figure out what makes a poem Valuable in the sense that it touches someone’s life.

I put the project on hold because I couldn’t figure out how to do it in a few posts. When I started walking down the dusty memory lane of my poetic preference past I was bombarded by poem after poem of early influences. I think deconstructing my influences might have to be a gradual, piecemeal process until I find some way to make sense of the data.

So here’s a poem whose last line haunts me to this day:

somewhere i have never traveled, gladly beyond by e.e. cummings

somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond
any experience,your eyes have their silence:
in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
or which i cannot touch because they are too near

your slightest look easily will unclose me
though i have closed myself as fingers,
you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
(touching skilfully,mysteriously)her first rose

or if your wish be to close me, i and
my life will shut very beautifully ,suddenly,
as when the heart of this flower imagines
the snow carefully everywhere descending;

nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
the power of your intense fragility:whose texture
compels me with the color of its countries,
rendering death and forever with each breathing

(i do not know what it is about you that closes
and opens;only something in me understands
the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands

Reading this poem makes me recognize that it often isn’t literal meaning that draws me to a particular poem. The last line is the part of the poem that has echoed in my brain for years, popping into my head at strange moments. But what does the rain having small hands literally mean to me? The image is one of tenderness, fragility, and longing. It evokes an intense feeling without an object. I think that may have been what originally drew me to e.e. cummings as a poet – his ability to mean intensely without saying anything sensical, his ability to emote a message that was wordless and yet unmistakable.

Buddy in Bondage

As much as I tell myself I write this blog for me alone and thus if I wanted to henceforth write about tap dancing ferrets ’til the end of time it would be my prerogative, I start to feel a little guilty when I haven’t written about poetry in awhile.

So today’s topic is: Submission, i.e. submitting work to a literary magazine or contest.

In terms of writing I’ve had a pretty good run recently. I’ve written a poem a week for the last two weeks. Technically one piece might be microfiction, it’s very narrative and not very metrical, but it’s definitely a complete piece of creative writing so I’m throwing it in the pile of writing that counts as me being creatively productive. I generally don’t count the blog posts or the letters I write to friends, though sometimes I wonder if I have too limited a view of what counts as literary art.

A recent post on Creative Juices titled Who Is YOUR Creative Alter Ego? got me thinking about what counts as being blocked and how idiosyncratic that concept is for different writers.

Here’s a quote from the post, but you should definitely read the whole thing, particularly if you think you’re creatively blocked in some way:

Our creativity is interested in us becoming whole human beings. It wants us to stop living such a small and narrow life. Acting out that same darned, tired and tattered, one sided and unidimensional script that we were given as children is just plain no fun and boring. It’s old. It’s been done. Over and over again. And the last thing that the creativity goddess wants for us is to be bored senseless by a life of going around and around the same ancient, well worn grooves in our psyche.

So the next time you find yourself stalled at a creative roadblock take a moment to ask the following question “Who is it that you are trying to please? What status quo are you busily trying to maintain?”

Reading Chris Zydel’s post which features one example of the labrinthyne methods people find to block their own creativity made me think a lot about the nature of writer’s block. Specifically, it made me think about how in many cases writer’s block is a myth that writer’s tell themselves to keep from putting work into the world that might be emotionally dangerous.

Which brings us in a roundabout, cat and mouse sort of way, back to the theme of today’s post.

Submission, i.e. submitting work to a literary magazine or contest.

I haven’t done it in over a year.

I’ve been telling myself that that’s because I haven’t been writing.

That’s total bunk.

I didn’t finish the process, but as I was packing for my move to Norcal I started going through old notebooks, and my suspicians were correct. I have scores of untyped and unedited poems.

To provide a little background information, my two most common methods of writing poems are:

1) I carry a notebook with me and write poems when inspiration strikes, usually after a particularly good conversation or when reading a particularly inspiring passage in a book. Often I write poems after attending a reading and hearing other people read poems. I guess you could call this method cross-pollination. The world demands a response and that response is a poem. Cross-pollination requires paper. There’s a kinetic element too it. The feel of the pen in hand. The mad flipping of notebook pages to get to the next blank space. A computer doesn’t cut it. I don’t think it’s the feel of the keys that is the problem. I love keyboards. I think it’s the blinking cursor and the terrifying whiteness of a blank word document screen. The word processor demands an answer. A blank sheet of paper merely invites one.

2) In my computer I have a folder called ‘Finish Me Please’. This folder is filled with poor orphan poems that had wonderful beginnings and uninspired endings or, saddest of all, single homeless lines that were too beautiful for any poem yet in existence. Sometimes rather than writing my poems from scratch I go through the ‘Finish Me Please’ folder and try to put bits of poems together like puzzle pieces. I guess I would call this the collage method. These poems are often the most experimental and odd duck of my poems. Sometimes they seem like industrial machinations in comparison to my more organic poems. They are like children raised in an underground colony, preparing to live their adult lives in the world above, anxious over what sunlight might be like. Bringing some measure of completeness to my neglected orphan poems and homeless poetry fragments feels downright humanitarian and I enjoy it immensely.

I haven’t been writing many poems using the collage method lately, but I have been writing plenty of cross-pollination poems.

Cross-pollination poems require an extra step to make them fit to leave their humdrum domestic lives and venture out into the world to become gold miners or befriend wolves in the Alaskan wilderness or do other things that both poems and Jack London are fond of doing.

Cross-pollination poems need to be typed and I haven’t been typing them. I’ve been filling up notebooks, sticking the notebooks in a pile by my bed, and, worst of all, telling myself I never write anymore because if I were writing I would obviously be submitting work.

Stuff and nonsense!

Writing, feeling guilty for not writing, and bemoaning not having anything to submit is no way for a poet to live.

So unconscious fear of rejection and ridicule, I’m calling you out. Your rein of terror is done!

As soon as I get back to the U.S. I am on a mission. I am going to dig out every buried poem and type it up. I will then begin researching literary magazines to find homes for each of my completed poems.

I think I would like to ritualize the submission process in some way using this blog. Perhaps we’ll have an every other week or even a weekly accounting of where work has been sent.

I also want to have some fun with my rejection letter collection. Right now my collection of rejection letters is fairly modest. My goal is to have a rich and varied collection of rejection letters and I want to find a good way to display them. The rejection letter wall is a classic, but I think I want something more artistic. Perhaps rejection letter collages or rejection letter lampshades. Rejection letter wrapping paper on holidays.

Fear of rejection and writing have no business living in the same psyche, I like being a writer and I daresay I’m pretty good at it so the fear of rejection is just going to have to go.

Quotes of the Day:

You must keep sending work out; you must never let a manuscript do nothing but eat its head off in a drawer. You send that work out again and again, while you’re working on another one. If you have talent, you will receive some measure of success – but only if you persist. – Isaac Asimov

You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club. – Jack London