Worlds!

Tomorrow at 6.30 a.m. Becky and I leave for Michigan State University, where she will be competing with her 7th Grade Talented and Gifted team in the Odyssey of the Mind World Finals.

Leaving my life for five days, even with one child in tow, is clearly a hugely stressful undertaking, and planning for it has been time-consuming, so I apologize to anyone who is overdue a response on a TBM submission. (Q and I are relatively up to date on TRR.) Oh, and somewhat belatedly, the new issue of TRR is out!!

I have also now taught two of my three workshops at the Elizabeth Haddon school. The kids are adorable–one little boy ran over to me from the swing set today as I was leaving just to give me a hug–although today I really earned my money: I was ad-hoc’ing limericks on my knees on asphalt using 3d sidewalk chalk for almost an hour!

Similarly, on Barefoot Muse time…

Actually I’d like to get in a quick call for submissions while I’m still on the clock, as it were. And by submissions, I mean quality submissions, please! We’re still getting as many actual submissions as ever–we’ve received over 600 poems so far this reading period. Unfortunately, most of them have been terrible and/or in free verse. Sigh! On the plus side, now I have my wonderful Assistant Editor, I don’t have to read all of them. On the negative side, the only way I can put together a high quality journal is if I get high quality poems! Look, people, I know how hard it is to get formal poetry published, so I know all you formalists out there are sitting on a bunch of unpublished metrical verse. Send some of it our way, please! (And remember: editors often choose the poems YOU like the least…) [Read more…]

And According to the New Rules…

Today is TRR day. I’ve caught up on correspondence and subs and updated the website. Of course, I really need to write the editorial and consider the questions for an upcoming interview feature, but I don’t really have time for either of those before the kids get home so I WILL blog!

For my local readers, I’d like to draw attention to the new Medford Arts Center, which I toured on Tuesday. I’ve been advising the Medford Cultural Arts Commission on their Literary Program since last Fall, and in June the Commission opened the new Arts Center, conveniently located on Medford High St. Plans are afoot to began a Reading Series and put together a schedule of workshops and seminars for 2010. But for now, Burlington County residents might be interested to learn that the MCAC is sponsoring a local poetry contest for the second year running. Entry is free for up to 3 poems–simply visit the Medford Township website and download the entry form. (Please note: I will be judging, so please do NOT enter if you are a close personal friend or previous student of mine.) [Read more…]

Tuesday Musings

According to my new schedule, Tuesday afternoon is my day to work on the Barefoot Muse. So, I have caught up on submissions (a much easier job now I have my wonderful Assistant Editor, Nick Friedman) and added a new page to the website on which I will list all copies of books received for review. (There were two in the rather full Post Office box when I swung by last week.)

New rule: on days when my allotted task does not fill the time I have available before the kids get home from school, I WILL blog! [Read more…]

This Little Piggy Has Fleas…

…but no Swine Flu, thank goodness! It was all just a tempest in an espresso cup, much as I predicted.

Paul Stevens’ latest editorial achievement, The Flea, is now online–worth perusing as much for the idiosyncratic house style as for the excellent poetry contained within by such luminaries as Rhina Espaillat, Rose Kelleher, Tim Murphy, and, of course, yours truly.

As a not particularly reformed Trekkie I can’t find enough good things to say about the new Star Trek Movie. Chris Pine is perfect as a James T. Kirk who is different from the original in ways that the plot justifies completely, and Simon Pegg brings a new feistiness to a faithful interpretation of Scottie. Go see it!

I am 75% of the way through my draft Emily Bronte essay for West Chester, which means I have covered her life and discussed one of her trademark poems, with one more to go.

The submission deadline of May 15th is coming up for the June 1st issue of The Barefoot Muse. I have read 720 poems so far for this issue, and have accepted 6 with 20 on hold. Meanwhile the June issue of The Raintown Review is in production, and we are reading for the Winter issue.

Busy, busy. Don’t close the school on me again, please!

From the Center of the Epi-panic…

Last night the kids’ school contacted all parents to inform us that the school will be closed Monday and Tuesday due to two possible cases of Swine flu. Oh joy!

Seriously, I do understand that one must err on the side of caution when it comes to the health of a community’s children, but I also doubt that these are really cases of Swine Flu, or that closing the school would have any more benefit than simply quarantining these children, if the diagnosis proves true.

What I do know is that I was planning to start the first draft of my Emily Bronte essay today (It’s due May 20) and that is now looking unlikely to happen. Sigh!

In more positive news, I have two events coming up in May that are worth publicizing. On Monday 11th May, Rachel Bunting and I are reading for the Delaware Valley Poets at Barnes & Noble in Princeton. That starts at 7.30 p.m. And on Sunday May 17th I am reading for the Journal of New Jersey Poets at the West Caldwell Literary Festival, which runs from 1 to 5 p.m.

I hope to see some of you there!

A Promise is a Promise

I promised my friend Rachel that I would update this blog tonight, and I find time running away from me as usual, so it’s going to be a quick one, bullet pointed for maximum streamlining.

  • Rachel is running a really cool photo theme on her blog for every day of National Poetry Month. Yesterday it was me (I’m the neck…)
  • Yesterday was also the Schuykill Valley Journal New Issue Launch party, and I delivered a condensed version of my essay on formal poetry from it, which went down well (although how some poets at these things develop the monster egos which permit them to take up over double their allotted time, I really don’t know.)
  • I’m 6 for 6 on the poem a day (though a couple of them REALLY suck.)
  • We leave for a visit back to the UK tomorrow! Or at least I hope we do–my US passport has not arrived so I am going to have to wing it on my British one…
  • And finally a big thank you to Waccamaw for taking my poem “Cornered!”

All Kindled Up & Ready to Go

I love books, not just the smell of older volumes or the feel of the crisp pages of newer ones in my hands, but the accumulation of them. I look at a full bookshelf and feel greedily rich. So, it won’t surprise you that when Amazon’s electronic reader, the kindle, first came out, and my husband diffidently asked if I might like one, my answer was a resolute No!

Still, things change. Kindle 2 is now available, and apparently it addresses some of the glaring faults in the first version. Plus, we are going to the UK for ten days at Easter, and on any such trip I normally require 4 or 5 paperbacks secreted about our luggage, simply to provide me with in-flight reading material. The lightweight kindle could replace that excess poundage. So, I said, OK! And on our 13th wedding anniversary this past weekend (lucky for some!) my kindle duly arrived.

I love it! Let me give you some reasons why.

  1. Believe it or not, I think I actually read faster on the kindle. This is no mean feat, because I wasn’t exactly a slouch in the reading department before. I’m not exactly sure why it is. Perhaps because there are fewer words per page, and my highly-programmed reader’s brain almost internalizes them all in one look? Or maybe because I can press the “next page” button while I am still absorbing the last sentence, and begin the next one without that annoying (seriously!) page turning delay.
  2. The kindle is way better for stop/start/on the go reading. I really can hold and operate it in one hand (It’s about the size and weight of a first poetry collection), which leaves the other one free to eat/stir dinner/let dogs out/drive (Just kidding on the last one!) Plus, if I’m reading and the phone rings/ a child calls for help with a fractions worksheet/ the oven timer goes, then I can simply put it down. No hunting for bookmarks or mashing the spine with the book face down on the table. The kindle remembers where I am, even if it goes to sleep (after a ten minute delay).
  3. I can email my own manuscripts to the kindle. Perhaps this wouldn’t matter to everyone, but for a small fee I can send My Body, Torn from Me to Amazon, and they will format it into a kindle file and download that to my kindle. Imagine how useful that would be at Poetry Readings, or just for working on the m/s (using the kindle’s annotations function) on the plane.
  4. Classic literature is like, really cheap. So, I was browsing the “literary fiction” category (Bit of confusion going on there, Amazon. Maeve Binchy? Really?) and I found British Classics: The Bronte Family, which contains all 7 of the sisters’ novels, the poetry m/s they brought out initially, their father’s poetry AND the first two biographies (Gaskell and Shorter.) Guess how much this bounty cost? $0.99! Really!

Now of course this wouldn’t float everyone’s boat either. But I am in the process of writing an essay about Emily Bronte for the Mezzo Cammin timeline project/ West Chester seminar, so the prospect of having this material available in England (where I will be visiting Haworth Parsonage) is ideal.

I’m guessing that rather like Project Gutenberg, this is possible because copyright on the original editions of these works (It’s the third edition of Jane Eyre, for example) has expired. Might not suit everyone but perfect for me!

In fact, my husband has started to call me “Kindle Girl!”

Tales of the Unexpected

Regular readers will be familiar with these thumbnail sketches of my daughters: Becky, fearless eleven year old Level 8 Competitive Gymnast, and Lorna, gentle nine year old Girl Scout. Which of these two would you think would be the most likely to fracture a wrist? Me too!

However on Tuesday night, little Lornie was ill-advisedly standing on a child’s plastic chair in her bedroom, in order to reach something on the top shelf in her closet, when it gave way beneath her. When I reached the shrieking child, she was cradling her left wrist in a nest of plastic shards. We weren’t initially sure it was broken (and she did NOT want to go to the ER, which was handy, because Becky was AT gymnastics, and Mr E. currently away on business) so we bound it with Becky’s Gymnastics tape and I gave her some Moitrin.

Next morning it was swollen, necessitating a trip to the Pediatrician’s, followed by an X Ray (hairline fracture), followed by a visit to the Orthopedic Surgeon, where she acquired a pretty bright pink cast that will need to stay on for 4 weeks. Ah well!

In unrelated, but clearly more welcome, news, 32 Poems have accepted “Anchors.” Just when I was bemoaning the impossibility of escaping the formalist ghetto! Of course, Editor John Poch is no enemy of form, and 32 Poems have published plenty of poems with formal leanings (“Anchors” is a Lowellian blank verse sonnet with a final rhyming couplet), but it’s still a mainstream journal (and one with a excellent–and well-deserved–reputation) so I’m happy!

Back from AWP

Well, that was a great way to spend four days!

Not only did I get to hang out with literary people, listen to invigorating panels and inspiring readings, and spend quality time with my husband, but I also managed to visit a new city (Chicago) in a state, nay a whole region of the US, that I had previously only known from literature–a fitting juxtaposition.

A few highlights: the panel on Multiformalism with Annie Finch, where violence was invoked so often as a metaphor it almost seemed as if audience and panel members were about to come to blows; the reading by Mary Jo Bang (whose beautiful book Elegy I had finished only days before) and Frank Bidart; the West Chester reading, where I had the opportunity to chat with Director Mike Peich and broach my idea for a panel in 2010; the Tribute to Gwendolyn Brooks; the VIP party Major Jackson snuck us into, where I hung out (a little) with Kim Addonizio; the Tribute to Jason Shinder, which was unexpectedly uplifting.

Shout out to: my Bennington buddies both from my own graduating class (Maureen D., Susan M-S., Laura N., Jenn S-K., David S., Shubha) and from other classes (Amy J., Leigh J., Ralph., Ann., Jan., Dara-Lyn, Did I miss anyone?) and of course faculty etc. (Victoria and Elaine); my Bread Loaf buddies (Dan–sorry we didn’t manage more than a quick hello, Steve W.) and other people I’d known previously either online or from other events (Tess T., Dick A.–get yourself that Facebook profile!) Also, once again to Rachel and Donna for moving into my house and providing onsite child and dog care for the four day period.

Things I’m Glad I Did: left the conference to actually see a bit of Chi-town, for which I have to thank my husband, whose patience for literary gatherings could only go so far. The view of Lake Michigan from the 96th Floor Lounge of the Hancock Tower was breathtaking, and Jilly’s Piano Bar fun-fun-fun!

Things I’d Do Differently: walk around the Book Fair earlier and for longer–I didn’t get there until Saturday afternoon by which time many exhibitors had packed up; not go to so many panels on electronic publishing–they really didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know.

Future Plans: AWP 2010 for sure! I don’t think I’ll get a table for The Raintown Review, but I would like to come up with an idea for a Panel that will promote Raintown, plus there’s a bunch of literary websites and journals I need to look up.

First though: LAUNDRY!!