Cullings from the CRWROPPS-B list…

17 Feb

Some days, I feel like the newest of newbies to the writing world, especially to the more business-y side of it, the side of publication and promotion, contests and fellowships.  I’m more aware (and I have a lot more free time) these days, so I’m searching out things and pondering stuff.

Kelli Russell Agodon’s excellent writing blog, Book of Kells, is a fountain of information, inspiration, and just plain entertainment, where she dissects the minutiae of publishing a poetry manuscript (and the many, many, many years of dogged determination required to keep submitting and revising and rethinking), as well as what she’s up to these days as a professional poet and teacher of poetry (check out the cover art for her latest book – it is brilliant).

She’s a consistent blogger, adding new posts almost daily, though not so much as to overwhelm her readers, and she just seems like a cool person, someone who would be a great writer friend.  (If I sound a little stalker-ish, I apologize.  It’s just rare to find someone who has good info, isn’t afraid to share it, and writes well.)

Which brings me to the CRWROPPS-B (Creative Writers Opportunities) list, which Kelli mentioned at some point or another.  Imagine…a daily (if you choose) digest of new job postings, calls for submissions, poetry contests, etc. all in one neat little email, delivered straight to your mailbox.  Brilliant, right?  I’m on one of these for the event/meeting planning industry, so I’m a little embarrassed that I didn’t think to look for one for creative writers.  But as a former boss loved to say, you don’t know what you don’t know.  Hear, hear.

So, if you’re a writer, or interested in writing, you should check out the listserv.  Not only is it a great place to find out about stuff that could benefit you professionally (jobs, contests, residencies), but it’s also a great way to find out about new/previously unknown (to you) poetry and fiction journals.  I’m very much a traditionalist when it comes to poetry — I like hold-in-your-hands, print magazines; I like “real” poems about “real” people (think Philip Levine and Dorianne Laux); I like stuff that grabs me by the throat and makes me pay attention.

The latest (online only) issue of Bone Bouquet did just that.  I was a little skeptical of a journal that only publishes female poets.  I appreciate having a market just for us girls, but, as with single-sex education, it makes me a little wary, making me wonder if we’re putting out the message that women need special attention, that we aren’t quite up to the challenge of competing head-on with the guys.

But then I think about the other subgroups I’m perfectly comfortable with, say, Chicano poets or Asian American poets or Indian Diaspora writers.  So what I guess it boils down to is the writing.  Is it good?  Is it great?  Did I pause and think, holy crap, I wish I’d written that.  Two poets in Bone Bouquet made me do that:  Becca Barniskis and Carmen Giménez Smith.

Here’s the beginning of “Rule #4” from Barniskis’ “The Queensbury Rules”:

I had a paperweight once of a Sherman tank—small, rusted, dense. I could have thrown it at my brother in fury, but instead I kicked him in the kidneys and wondered at his pain.

Giménez Smith’s poem “Beauty Regimen” ends with:

The TV casts its viridian glare, makes me
a tepid silhouette against the mouse hole.
The hole’s a shadow tunnel into my chest,
one way ticket. If only diligence was love.

I’m going to be thinking about these two poems for days.

– Jho


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