New Poem at Heartwood Lit Mag

Thanks to Heartwood Literary Magazine for publishing my poem, Riding Lawn Mower, in Issue 5 of their journal, just released this week. Thanks especially to Editor Danielle Kelly. Heartwood is a beautiful literary journal published in association with the Low-Residency MFA program at West Virginia Wesleyan College. Please take a look at the poem on the Heartwood web pages, and check out some of the other great poems, stories and essays: http://www.heartwoodlitmag.com/riding-lawn-mower.

Riding Lawn Mower

After the first small-engine repairman
tells me five miles are too far for a house call
or a pick up, the second repairman tells me
I should disassemble the mower myself,
bring him the offending portion.

Lincoln said his father taught him to work
but never to like it.  My father taught me
to work on lawn mowers. Naturally,
I think about buying a new machine.

Instead, I crawl onto summer-warm grass
like my father taught me. I pull
S-pins and retaining springs, freeing
suspension arms and the anti-sway bar,
separating clutch rod from clutch lever.
I mechanic my way beyond my skill set
until the mulching deck falls limp.

A pneumatic drill unlocks frozen, broken
blades turned upside down. New ones
hex bolt on, naked edges glinting in the light.
I reverse engineer, reattach metal to metal,
secure it all with a taut pulley belt.

Such unbindings and rebindings are common.
This tractor and I will again tame briar hells
of blackberry, wild rose. We will battle stones
rising quietly in the pasture at night like ghosts.
There is no choice but to keep going,
to keep working until the final, unfixable end.

 

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Submission Calls for Writers 4/4/2018

submissions

Here are a dozen journals and presses currently accepting submissions. Several of these fine presses and journals have just opened submissions at the beginning of April. A few of these have very small windows when you can submit your work, so don’t miss it! Good luck sending your work out.

Spork Press & Sporklet

Spork Press is accepting submissions for its online magazine, Sporklet, as well as for its 2019 catalog. Full length poetry manuscripts must be at least 48 pages and submitted as a PDF. For works of fiction over 100 pages, please send a synopsis and an excerpt that is 20-40 pages in length. It will likely take us up to two months to respond. Submissions to Sporklet: Poetry submissions should be 6-12 pages long. We like to feature several poems by each author. We are also very fond of long poems. Fiction submissions can include up to three short stories. There is no length limit for hybrid work. There are no reading fees. Simultaneous submissions welcome.

http://sporkpress.com/?page_id=3492

 

Moon City Review

Moon City Review is currently reading for the 2019 issue. We are accepting submissions of fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, graphic narrative, translations, and book reviews.

http://www.mooncityreview.com/

 

Concho River Review

CRR is published biannually. We welcome submissions of high-quality fiction, non-fiction and poetry year-round. CRR welcomes fiction on all subjects, although we tend to publish traditional stories with a strong sense of conflict, finely drawn characters, and crisp dialogue. Length of manuscripts should be 1,500–5,000 words. CRR welcomes submissions of creatively told personal narratives and innovative approaches to the essay form. We also consider thoughtful, researched articles; especially those that explore areas that are part of our southwestern landscape and heritage. We review manuscripts of all lengths, up to 6,000 words. CRR welcomes original poetry submissions from all poets, established or emerging. Length and form are open, but shorter poems (one page or less) are preferred. Please send three to five poems at a time.

http://conchoriverreview.org/submissions.html

 

Sugared Water

Sugared Water is reading submissions during the month of April. SW is an independent lit mag published & handbound in Cincinnati, Ohio. Our cover art is original and produced in limited edition. We read poetry & prose, with a particular interest in flash and micro forms, lyric and personal essays, prose poetry, free verse poetry, and individual, strong senses of voice and place. We will consider 3-5 poems or up to 4,500 words in fiction or creative nonfiction.

https://sugaredwatermagazine.wordpress.com/submission-guidelines/

 

Ascent

Ascent publishes stories, poems, photographs and essays. Ascent opens for submissions on the first of April and will read submissions through the end of May.

http://www.readthebestwriting.com/

 

LIT Magazine

LIT: The journal of The New School Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Program promotes innovative art and writing via print and digital publishing. Poetry submissions should be no more than 5 poems or 10 pages. We accept fiction and nonfiction. Prose submissions should be no longer than 25 pages, double-spaced, single-sided. Our current reading period ends in May 2018.

http://www.litmagazine.org/

 

Voices

Kentucky River Community Care is pleased to announce the second issue of Voices, a literary journal recognizing and presenting creative talent from the Kentucky River region and beyond. Our journal exists to give a voice to those who often go unheard, particularly those in the mental health community. KRCC staff and clients, as well as writers from throughout the region, are invited to submit their best prose, poetry, photography, and artwork by May 15, 2018.

http://krcccares.com/voices/

 

Memoir Mixtapes Volume 5

Memoir Mixtapes is a mashup of the two things we all love to talk about: ourselves and music. Volume 5 is our first un-themed issue. We are not currently accepting fiction pieces—after all, we are “Memoir” Mixtapes. We’re looking for your personal, creative non-fiction prose and poetry inspired by the music that makes you feel feelings. Submit one submission / one song per writer. The sweet spot for prose submissions is between 2–7 pages, single spaced. (If your submission runs a little shorter or longer, it’s not the end of the world.) Poetry submissions can be any length, but please bear in mind that over 5 pages is going to be a tougher sell. DEADLINE FOR VOL.5 SUBMISSIONS: MAY 16, 2018.

https://memoirmixtapes.com/submissions/

 

Terrain

Our online journal accepts only the finest poetry, essays, fiction, articles, artwork, videos, and other contributions—material that reaches deep into the earth’s fiery core, or humanity’s incalculable core, and brings forth new insights and wisdom. We are currently accepting regular submissions of poetry, nonfiction, fiction, reviews, and videos. There is no fee (nor payment) for regular contributions. Our reading period ends May 30, 2018. Submit from two to six poems of any length in a single document. Creative nonfiction, photo, personal, and other essays need not follow any particular essay style. 6,000 words maximum for creative nonfiction. Articles may be technical or journalistic in nature. Short stories, excerpts from novels, flash fiction, radio plays, drama, and other forms of fiction are encouraged. 6,000 words maximum.

https://www.terrain.org/submit/regular-submission-guidelines/

 

Tammy, a print journal of prose and poetry

Tammy is a print publication that features writing from the esteemed fringes and unguarded egresses of American letters, international writing in translation, and forms of visual art that lend themselves to the printed page.  Now reading for its sixth issue. Recent contributors include Amanda Goldblatt, Lydia Davis and Matt Bell. Tammy’s current reading period runs through June 1, 2018.

https://tammy.submittable.com/submit

 

Howling Bird Press

Howling Bird Press is open for submissions of book-length fiction manuscripts from April 1 to July 31, 2018. The press welcomes innovative, original work from established and emerging authors. The competition is open to all writers in English living in the U.S., whether published or unpublished. Manuscripts may be short stories, novels, novellas, etc. Word counts should be in the 40,000 to 60,000 range. File formats should be either Word .doc or .docx or PDF. Pages should be numbered, and the author’s name and address should appear on the first page. Include a cover letter in the form provided online, and list contact information and a short (100 to 200 word) bio. There is a $25 entry fee. The winner is announced in January 2019. The winner receives $1,000 and book publication in fall 2019.

Howling Bird Press books are distributed by Small Press Distribution and are available at online retailers and in bookstores nationwide.

http://www.augsburg.edu/mfa/howling-bird-press/

https://augsburghowlingbirdpress.submittable.com/submit

 

Consequence

Consequence is reading submissions until September 30, 2018. We publish short fiction, poetry, non-fiction, interviews, visual art, and reviews primarily focused on the culture of war. For fiction and non-fiction: please submit one piece of no more than 5,000 words. For poetry: please submit up to five poems of any length. Translations are acceptable if the author’s permission has been granted. Simultaneous submissions are welcome and encouraged, but if your work is accepted elsewhere, please let us know immediately. Each submission may be accepted for publication in the print edition of CONSEQUENCE and CONSEQUENCE Online.

http://www.consequencemagazine.org/submit/

Two New Poems

It’s strange how you can write and write, revise and revise, submit and submit, and you wait for long stretches of time for something you’ve written to be published. And then, sometimes, multiple good things happen all at once.

Saturday, I received my copy of the new print issue of Coe Review. I was pleased to find my poem, “Balefire,” on page one of the new issue.

Coe Review Cover

Balefire

The crimson king maple blows
in high winds, burns with October’s
beautiful death. Before my confused eyes,
leaves piled at the tree’s base form
wings, take flight and fall upwards.
A reversal of everything I know.
These small, light birds flash
grayish white undersides
before disappearing into
the crimson king’s flames.

Maybe they are
what field guides call
confusing fall warblers.
Maybe they are
some kind of finch,
but there are too many species
for my untrained eye.
Peterson’s doesn’t state
which birds have enough magic
to fly into fire.
Science is silent on why
some blazes appear as signal beacons
though they were built
as funeral pyres.

On Sunday, New Verse News published my poem, “The Water-Carrier’s Prayer,” which I like to think of as a love poem to US Congressman Devin Nunes. #resist

New Verse News is publishing some great progressive poetry, and I’m really proud to have this poem published with them. It was also a lot of fun to skewer the very less than honorable Devil Nunes.

The Water-Carrier’s Prayer

Devin Nunes, hallowed be your name.
Hallowed be your midnight runs,
your dark-of-night dashes. Your fake news
echoes from Pennsylvania Avenue
and Capitol Hill across Merika
(“I love the uneducated!”)
as it does in Mar-A-Lago…

(read the entire poem online at New Verse News: https://newversenews.blogspot.com/2018/03/the-water-carriers-prayer.html)

Michael Dowdy’s Urbilly

This week, I’ve been reading Michael Dowdy’s amazing debut collection, Urbilly, the winner of the 2017 Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award.  This is a great collection of poems that all work together to voice something really meaningful that is in some ways about modern Appalachia and its people. But it’s also about a great deal more.

cvrurbilly_postcard

Through the pages, the idea of the “urbilly” becomes so vivid. I would attempt to explain, myself, what an urbilly is, but I think Dowdy does that best on his website:

“Urbilly?  Think antic field guide to parts (un)known & exploited. Mountain / megacity mashups, rural / urban hullabaloo, New River / Gowanus cocktails. Backwoods & Brooklyn. Mountaintop removal & Edison bulbs, landfill & farm-to-table, Muriel Rukeyser & Big Daddy Kane, James Still & girders of steel. Think Urbilly as the anti-Hillbilly Elegy.”

When I was an editor at drafthorse a few years ago, we had the pleasure to publish a few of Dowdy’s poems that are included in Urbilly. Click on “drafthorse” to read a group of the poems, but here’s one of my favorites.

The Out-Migrant’s Family Tree, as Seen through Binoculars

Smudged along the lower ridge
a copse of knobby hardwoods

withers in coils of cold wind.
Squint past the blind curve scribbled

in cut banks of brush, just there,
where fog-coated sycamores

unfurl scrolls of icy bark,
where taillights trickle beyond

Oblivion, Virginia,
where calm haunts the revenant.

Laurel hells strangle hearth and flue.
Even springs zigzag uphill.

No good here my wistful words.
Those provenance jackets veil

a sparrow chest and stuffed gut.
Here, where decades stretch threadbare,

my grave dark eyes, sockets deep
as karst caves, skitter and rest.

A tongue rhododendron tied
slips loose; restless legs snap to.

My sneakers swoosh in hoarfrost,
scything kin from the harvest

of time, stutterers who hauled
fieldstone, sunk wells, and raised beams

right about there. You have to
cock your head just so, just there,

where clouds lung the mountains’ ribs.
Where trunks bend and crack the last

inky leaves bear down, hold outs
against the thieving north winds.

 

 

 

 

Lynne Sharon Schwartz’s No Way Out But Through

One of the great pleasures of my graduate studies was the opportunity to work with Lynne Sharon Schwartz. She was a tough reader and a firm critic—not ungenerous at all—but she was not the kind of person who suffered fools or foolish writing. She was one of the best mentors I could have asked for.

LSS and Denton

I learned a lot by working with Lynne Sharon Schwartz, but I have probably learned almost as much from reading her work. I read her novel, The Writing on the Wall, after my first semester with her. Later, I read her memoir, Ruined by Reading: A Life in Books. I loved it so much that I bought copies for many of my friends who were writers, knowing they too would see the beauty she describes in her life-long relationship with reading. It wasn’t until after I finished my graduate work that I also realized this excellent prose writer was also a skilled poet.

nowayoutbutthrough

I have loved everything by Lynne Sharon Schwartz that I’ve ever read, and her latest collection of poetry, No Way Out But Through, is no exception. So many of these poems are elegies—elegies for her parents, her sister, her youth, even for the Brooklyn where she grew up but that’s gone now, forever changed. Even in the poems examining death and the loss of her closest friends and family, there’s something beautiful, almost hopeful, in the way Schwartz shows how we remain connected to those who have passed. But among these poems of loss, there is also great humor. Schwartz has a brilliant eye for seeing what’s askew, and even when she’s deadpan in her delivery, the note is always just right.

Here is a poem from the collection, “Forgetting,” which originally appeared in Narrative. You can view the original publication here: http://www.narrativemagazine.com/issues/poems-week-2014-2015/poem-week/forgetting-lynne-sharon-schwartz.

Forgetting

Absence rarely makes the heart grow
fonder, or so my mother said, popping
a blackberry into her mouth—
we’d raided the patch at the far edge
of the woods. Absence, she said,
begets forgetting. And while you mightn’t
so swiftly forget a blackberry’s taste
or a thorn’s prick, or a cloud’s sheep shape
skimming low like a darning needle
over a lake, how fast the lineaments of face
or voice or touch vanish, like that!
She snapped her fingers,
bolted down the berry.

Rachel Hadas reviewed No Way Out But Through for the Los Angeles Review of Books, describing Schwartz’s poetry like this: “She’s an archivist of memories, a celebrant for the forgotten or nearly forgotten, who also writes eloquently of the undertow of oblivion. She’s an anthologist of anxiety dreams. Irritated by Cordelia and partial to the Fisherman’s Wife, she’s a contrarian reader. At all times, Schwartz’s poetic voice is piercingly honest. Her tough-minded intelligence leaves plenty of room for questions and regrets.” You can read the entire review here: https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/times-technique-on-lynne-sharon-schwartzs-no-way-out-but-through/#.

As I mentioned, Schwartz has an excellent sense of humor. One of the many poems where that comes out is in this poem about sex.

What the Poets Never Write about Love

The actual words murmured: not
Ah, your silken thighs, your breasts
like tender hills, but, Shit,
my zipper’s stuck. My arm
is getting numb, please move. Wait,
I’ll do the sleeve, and no, it hooks
in front not back. Hold on a sec,
I have a hair in my mouth, and move your ass,
I can’t breathe this way. Remember,
I asked you once before to cut your fingernails?
Not to rush you or anything but
I can’t stay in this fucking position another minute.

This act they say displays our animal nature
yet we’re not, after all, like animals in love,
who finish, pant, grunt, saunter off.
They do not lie together after, or kiss,
laughing at their words of love, awkward
intimacies of bodies getting in their own way
on the tumbling, humbling path to bliss.

The voice of each poem is so strong, and Schwartz’s characteristic wit constantly shines through. I look forward to coming back to these poems again and again. I’ve enjoyed them as a reader. I’m learning from them as a writer. And I’m excited to think about Schwartz will write next.