Yearly Archives: 2013

Publication and Reading

The fall calendar has been rapidly filling with poetry readings, classes, and publications.

Here in Rochester, the second Fringe Festival begins this weekend. A group of poets, led by Wanda Schubmehl, will be reading the work generated from her latest project–a poetry chain gang. Participating poets responded to one poem from another participating poet. The poem generated was then be passed along to another poet. None of us (yes, I am a participant!) saw any other poem than the one given to each of us until the project was completed. The reading will be this Saturday, September 21 at Writers & Books, 740 University Ave., Rochester, NY. We’ll start at 4:00 pm, so arrive early for the best seat! This is a free reading. As a result of Wanda’s efforts, FootHills Publishing will also produce a chapbook with all of our poems.

Please head over to Conte Online where my poem “14th. St., Buffalo, NY” appears. I am grateful to the editors for including my work and for asking me to record the poem being read in my voice, something I have not previously done. Let me know what you think.


News This Week

There are several poetry readings this week featuring local poets. Tonight, Karla Linn Merrifield and Catherine Faurot (a fellow Bennington alum) will be reading at Writers & Books for the Genesee Reading Series, 7:30 pm.

Thursday, Just Poets will hold a reading from their annual anthology, Le Mot Juste, at the Pittsford Library (second floor) at 7:00 pm. An open mic will follow.

Saturday, Patricia Roth Schwartz will be reading at Books, Etc. in Macedon at 2:00 pm. Pat has asked a few of her friends (I am among them) to read a couple of poems as well.

I’d also like to point you to a list of the top 25 writers of faith compiled by the editors of Image. Here’s a link Post a comment if you agree/disagree with their selections.


The Merits of Online Literary Journals

As the fall 2013 reading period opens, I want to address the issue of online literary journals and the merits of having work published by them.

The most obvious benefit is the size of the potential audience. While print publications are, for the most part, quite limited in their press runs, online publications have the possibility of readership limited only by the scope of the Web. This potentiality is heavily augmented by the reach of social media: Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, blogs, RSS feeds, etc., where the Word of the Web spreads more quickly than the word of mouth ever could.

Another important consideration is the development of relationships with other poets, publishers, and editors outside of your immediate environs that can lead to further publication opportunities, invitations to read, and invitations to attend and/or lead workshops.

Then there is the Google factor. When a reader comes upon your work online, that reader is able to search the Internet for more of your work, an expanded bio, and your general reputation within the larger community of poetry.

Will your work be perceived as lesser in status by appearing online versus in print? The answer to that question differs with each reader. We all have that one friend or family member who refuses to enter the digital age but is that one person your target audience? Who is in your target audience? Could those individuals who might appreciate your work the most be the same people who spend their days connected to their technology simply because of its portability?

A friend says to you, “Hey, I just read the most awesome conceptual poem.” You ask, “So, can you lend me the mag?” She says, “No. But I can show it to you on my smart phone.” That poem is available for the reading anywhere there’s wireless, immediately.

An often-heard argument against online lit mags is their quality compared to print. I find this argument to be less valid as time progresses and as the quality of successful lit mags increases with each publication cycle. What matters and is key, is the reputation of the publication, whether in print or online.

Arguably, print publication is still far more desired for the purposes of academia, but even there the gap is closing.

Granted, online publication is never going to be the same as holding that perfect-bound journal in your hands. It is, however, the path of our words, at least until an electro-magnetic pulse shuts down everyone’s electricity.

I would be interested to read your feedback.


Literary Journal Reading Fees

Last week, I did something I hoped I would never do. I paid a reading fee to a literary journal for the submission of my work.

I have made my feelings about reading fees clear in the past and they have not changed. Why would I break with my own protocol? I had prepared the submission file and begun the process with the journal’s online submission software and got to the point where payment appeared. I’ll admit to being torn. My initial reaction was to close the window and move on. But, I had questions. Would the non-contest reading fee this journal charges in any way make a difference in how my submission fared? Could I expect a more timely response?

I wanted answers that would only satisfy me from personal experience. So, I paid the $3.00, knowing it probably would not make a difference in how my submission would be handled and I took comfort that I was at least monetarily supporting the journal.

Just to reiterate my feelings about non-contest reading fees, I compare the trend to airline baggage fees. Once one airline started charging, others soon followed until just about every airline in existence now charges baggage fees. It is taking a bit longer to catch on in the publishing industry, but charging reading fees for non-contest submissions is undeniably a growing trend.

In theory, these reading fees should not be objectionable. Publishing poetry and other literary creative writing is not a money maker. Most journals exist from the desire of people who love quality literature and want to share that literature with the world. Noble. Admirable. We should be grateful for these people and the publications they produce, whether online or in print. I am grateful. Truly.

However, as a poet, I can tell you from personal experience that, for the most part, poetry does not pay monetarily. There is a bit of the sting of the pay-for-publication stigma, whether or not that sentiment is justified. Many wonderful poets can’t afford reading fees; they have a difficult time just paying their bills. What are the implications of excluding these poets? Will there be a difference in the quality of the poetry published due to a smaller submission pool?

As fall reading begins and new guidelines are being rolled out, I am monitoring the trend.

If you are an editor of a literary journal, please share your thoughts on this subject.


Blogs You Should Be Reading

There are two excellent blogs I would like to recommend to my writing friends and followers. The first is by St. John Fisher College’s Writer-in-Residence, M. J. Iuppa. Her blog, (A)stray: One Poet’s Conversation, is especially essential during this National Poetry Month. She is posting daily writing prompts and her prompts are well-known to kickstart the creative muse in us all 

The second is by Tom Holmes, editor of Redactions: Poetry and Poetics and a long-time resident of the Rochester area now working on his Ph. D. in Mississippi. The Line Break features a good article on promoting your published collection of poems He has also posted several of his book reviews worth reading.

Check them out. Follow them. Enhance your own writing experience. 


Reflection on AWP 2013

Never having been to Boston, I hoped there would not be a repeat of the nor’easter that hit there in February. Thankfully, I chose Jet Blue over Airtran and was able to get into Boston before weather hit. Being a native of western New York, I quickly forget how non-WNYers do not have the expertise to cope with what I’ve come to call “cosmic snot,” also known as mixed precipitation tending toward the slushy side. Fortunately, Boston provides sufficient covered walkways to keep pedestrian travel outdoors to a minimum, at least where the hotels and convention center are situated.

Now for the highlights. In addition to the expected what’s-trending-in-publishing panels, I attended panels on applying for Fullbright fellowships and NEA grants, panels on current Polish poetry in translation, the necessity for Christian literary publishers, and a reading by contributors to an anthology encouraging young Latina women to go to college (one of the contributors is my fellow Bennington alum and friend, Celeste Guzman Mendoza). All were very informative, thought provoking, and even inspiring.

I was delighted to meet and converse with poet James Ragan at the Seamus Heaney-Derek Wolcott reading/conversation. As drawn to central Europe as I am, Ragan’s experiences teaching in Poland and the Czech Republic were fascinating to hear, especially since I have high interest in returning to Poland.

The conference and bookfair is so much better now that the annual event is held in a convention center. There was much more time to browse and chat at the bookfair between panels rather than racing from one conference hotel to another.

Books I had to purchase: Glory Bound (WordFarm, 2012) by Jessie Van Eerden. I attended a reading sponsored by Ruminate journal and WordFram Press where Van Eerden read. Her prose is poetic; the fact that the book is published by a Christian imprint made the purchase all the more appealing. Better Food for a Better World (Slant Books, 2013) by Erin McGraw. Slant is a new press, a counterpart to Image journal. Anyone who knows me knows that I could not resist a novel with ice cream on the cover! I purchased only one book of poetry, The World Shouldering I by James Ragan. How can anyone converse with a fine poet and not get a signed book?

There were plenty of other titles of interest, many of them available for my (yes, I have one) Kindle Fire. I still enjoy the experience of reading a paper-made book. I have also come to appreciate the freedom (mostly from pain) of not carrying hundreds of pages of paper while traveling.

I think I’ll pass on Seattle next year, though. I’ve got other plans. More about that another time.

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