Friday, November 28, 2008
"Ask until your toes curl."
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
there's at least one literary journal or rag nearby. Your big city has several; your home state has a score. And, insofar as the fit is right, start submitting your work to those closest to home. Advantages:
1. Local editors will see your work and know you exist. If you're published, local writers will read your work (they're in the same journal) and when you meet them at literary gatherings (because you DO go) your name will sound familiar and you can make some friends.
2. Local writers will introduce you to local editors, because editors are writers too. See if you like them. Take them up on any offers to read their slush pile or hang out at headquarters. And then submit your best work. Do it soon-- before you're on their masthead.
3. Publish in two or three local journals and keep showing up for events, and local literati will seek you out for readings of your work.
4. Doing some readings may lead to teaching a workshop, judging a contest, or to a guest appearance in front of a college class. And somebody is always assembling an anthology. Now that he or she knows you, you might get asked to submit some work. Bingo; you go into a book without even trying.
I wrestled with the biggies and didn't get much of anywhere until I tried my homies. Does that mean I picked the low-hanging fruit? The above got me jobs that I live on, tons of great friends, and published. By their fruits ye shall know them!
Monday, November 24, 2008
Answer: No journal wants to publish poems that appeared first in a chapbook. I'd try first to publish individual poems in as many local print journals as possible, setting a deadline of one year; then -- no matter what the result -- I would make a chapbook ms. Local journals will further your work much faster than will national publications. How so? See next blog entry. Send to 'em all. Don't enter contests, just send the poems. And send simultaneously!
Think you have some good poems? Get a bunch of them out to your local journals by Dec. 15!
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008
From an interview about the book.
Andy Worthington: And Abdur Rahim Muslim Dost, the Afghan [prisoner] poet, wrote 25,000 lines of poetry, much of it scratched onto Styrofoam cups and passed from cell to cell?
Marc Falkoff (editor of Poems from Guantanamo): Yes.
So being able to write today using a pen or computer, even though writing is a big pain and isn't going well, I'm glad. There was one former POW who once said, "A good day is one on which the lock is on the INSIDE of the door."
Here's one of Dost's poems that made it into the anthology:
What kind of spring is this,
Where there are no flowers and
The air is filled with a miserable smell?
Thursday, November 13, 2008
- "Today, a short search of the web turns up over 300 chapbook and full-collection competitions . . .Even if contests merely continue to escalate at the rate of five or six extra competitions per year, an astounding minimum of 50,000 poetry books will be published as distinguished award-winners by the end of this century!"
- "Before Emily Dickinson’s heap of 1,775 untitled poems could be competitive, she would have to discard 1,700 of them; give each of the remaining 75 a title; sort them into three thematic batches, each with a section title and epigraph; and come up with a catchy “umbrella” title (Wild Nights might be a hit with student-screeners)."
- "Poetry book contests privilege serious poems over humorous ones; pathos over wit; “sincerity” over virtuosity; they eschew satire and persona; and devalue variety in favor of consistency of theme, form, tone, and “voice.” A swerve into the ineffable in the last few lines of each poem will keep your work “open” and “risky” in conformance with current MFA workshop practice."
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Have you re-read yourself lately? If you are down, it might cheer you up. A few nights ago I got caught up re-reading my own books. I thought, "Man, I said that really well! It holds up! How did I do that? Can I ever do it that well again?" and although I know I could, given the same situation, for a few minutes I doubted it.
I'd say that was my own weird thinking, except I once interviewed a sitar genius named Imrat Khan who said he thinks the same thing when he listens to his own recordings -- that he could never surpass what he's already done, that future work will somehow be lacking.
These are fears, and fears have no existence apart from their host. Maybe Chuck Berry, 82, focuses on the future, not the past. I do appreciate the past for things accomplished and lessons learned. But a focus on the future -- even if it's only a contest deadline or writers' gathering that's coming up -- is a definite plus for the mental health of artists.
Monday, November 3, 2008
I love gigs because I write to communicate, and they give me a chance to air favorite works that for whatever reason aren't published: because they're new; because they're risky or offbeat; because I haven't a clue as to who'd publish them. A poet is a one-man band -- has to hold the audience as Aerosmith or an opera singer would hold it, without any of the instruments, props, amps or roadies. Just a voice and words on paper. This is one of the greatest challenges anyone could ever face. And one of the most rewarding to ace, whether you get money or not (mostly not). I strive to give a polished performance that offers a few twists and shocks.
You'll see and hear what I mean.