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AWP 2015 Debrief, Part 1

I attended several panels on publication, a panel on the sonnet (in case you don’t know, my graduate lecture was about the modern sonnet), a panel on revision, another on translation and a very interesting panel on balancing work for an arts organization with the creative life.

Panels on publication were among the best-attended, as if there were a secret system for getting one’s work accepted. There isn’t. These panels reinforced common sense: Treat your work and the editors with respect and complete professionalism. Know the publications to which you send your work, which means read or subscribe to those publications. Send only your best, completed work. If you are still revising, you’re sending it out too soon. Do not send anything that is cliché or slick. Do not make the assumption “big-named” journals are the best. Do send work with a strong voice that begs the reader to keep reading and re-reading. Learn how to submit online. Online submissions are far more the norm than postal submissions.

Several editors reported receiving submissions anywhere from four to five figures, which can lead to a hefty backlog. Many of these publications report acceptances at a rate less than .50 of 1%. Keep these figures in mind when you send your work to the most “popular” publications.

I’ll discuss some of the other panels and the book fair in upcoming posts.

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Reading in Pittsford Thursday

I am pleased to be reading from my chapbook Language You Refuse to Learn (Bright Hill Press, 2014) and new work along with H.B. Dill who will be reading from his recently published collection Supernal Andantes (Lulu, 2015). The reading is Thursday, March 12 at Barnes & Noble, Pittsford. We will begin at 7:00 p. m. An open mic will follow. This reading is a part of the Just Poets Reading Series and Open Mic. Anita Augesen will host. I hope to see you there! http://www.amazon.com/Language-Refuse-Learn-Claudia-Stanek/dp/1892471779/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1426018405&sr=1-1&keywords=Language+You+Refuse+to+Learn

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Top 5 Most Memorable Poetry Books

I started a Poetry Readers’ Group in February 2004. There were 8 of us at then; 3 of the originals remain and three others sit at the table now.

Each month, a member selects a book which we will all read and discuss over a long afternoon lunch. We’ve read everything from selected poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins to this month’s selection, Parts of Speech by Kyle Schlesinger. Needless to say, there have been some very intense dialogues and there is rarely a book of poetry  that is either universally liked or disliked.

Thinking about the discussion we will have on Schlesinger’s book this month prompted me to consider which books of poetry I personally have found to be the most memorable over the years. Most of these books were not necessarily Readers’ Group selections though one is, Late Psalm by Betsy Sholl. This happened to be universally liked by the group members at the time.

As I pondered other books, I decided to compile my list based on certain factors: these books aren’t in the academic “canon.” Reading them forever changed how I approach as well as write poetry. They come to mind immediately when someone asks what my favorite book of poetry is.

In no particular order, here they are:

Late Psalm by Betsy Sholl
Morning in the Burned House by Margaret Atwood
Song by Brigit Pegeen Kelly
Late Wife by Claudia Emerson
The Selected Poems of Max Jacob (in translation)

From these come some of my favorite poems: “Half-Hanged Mary” by Atwood, “Song” by Kelly and “Hell Has Gradations” by Jacobs.

“Half-Hanged Mary” takes 10 minutes to read. I know because I did a dramatic reading of it at Rochester Institute of Technology several years ago.

“Song” is a poem I can no longer hear read nor read myself. To do so metaphorically scrapes the walls of the chambers of my heart.

“Hell Has Gradations” is prescient, an allegorical prose poem that saw the Holocaust coming. Jacobs, who converted to Catholicism from Judaism, died in a Nazi prison camp.

If you’ve not read these poems or the books in which they are found, I encourage you to seek them out and know that they may overwhelm you.

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Language You Refuse to Learn Launch

Despite the best efforts of bronchitis, I was able to travel to non-profit Bright Hill Press & Literary Center (www.brighthillpress.org) for the official book launch of my chapbook Language You Refuse to Learn last week.

Bright Hill, which is situated on the outskirts of the Catskills, reminds me of Doctor Who’s TARDIS. From the outside you see a lovely country house but inside is a lovely gallery space with a library of used books for sale and, beyond that, a new addition which houses private book collections donated to Bright Hill as well as a children’s space.

Bertha Rogers, the driving force behind Bright Hill, was a welcoming host, most gracious in extending an invitation to my friend Lorrie and me to stay in the literary center’s guest space where we could have spent days perusing all that the library has to offer.

I am extremely grateful to my friends Lorrie, Kathy, Donna, and David Michael who made the trip from Rochester to Treadwell for the book launch and reading.

Future readings will be Thursday, October 2 at the DeWitt Community Library (7:00 pm) and Thursday, October 9 in the Golisano Gateway at St. John Fisher College, Pittsford, NY (7:30 pm). Many thanks to M.J. Iuppa for arranging this reading.

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What! Fall reading? It’s still July!

Friday opens the 2014 Fall reading season, the most opportune time for poets to have their work considered for publication by the largest number of journals seeking unsolicited submissions. The floodgates at Submittable, Submission Manager, Tell It Slant as well as the inboxes on editors’ desks and emails open beginning August 1 through September 15.

What you can expect to see this fall: Sadly, there will be an increase in the number of publications requiring reading fees in order to consider your work. No, these are not contest fees. Despite what some journals like to call their fees, they are money required for a journal’s staff to read the work you submit to them, hence “reading fees.” Reading fees that journals charge range from $1 per submission (usually 3-5 poems) to $10 per submission. The former and latter are very rare; reading fees in the 2013-2014 reading period averaged $3 per submission.

There will still be plenty of publications reading for free. Personally, as a poet, I am more inclined to support a journal without reading fees. But we need to be open to paying a journal for the privilege of reading our work. It stings. Poets rarely get paid when their work is accepted for publication. However, many journals are staffed by volunteers who believe in the value of literary pursuit and find fulfillment in publishing our work. I can much more easily accept not being paid for my work when I know the editors choosing to publish it have no monetary gain to do so.

What else? Expect an increase in online submissions with a corresponding decrease in postal submissions. This is not a new trend. Online submissions will continue to grow for the foreseeable future.

Finally, is the migration of more publications to the internet from print. Cost is the greatest driver behind this movement. Migrating away from print is not a bad thing. Consider how many potential readers your work may reach on the internet when published by a quality online journal as opposed to the number of potential readers finding your work in print.

What does this mean for Poetic Effect? Fall reading will be as busy as ever. Calendar slots will fill quickly. If you are interested in having submissions of your work prepared during fall reading, email me Claudia@poeticeffect.com to reserve your place in the queue. Reservations are on a first-come, first-served basis.

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What does that rejection letter mean?

You dread receiving that #10 envelope addressed to you with the label you stuck on it and sent with your poems to “Journal X.” Or, it’s that email you see in your inbox and cringe as you open it. The form rejection letter.

Here’s a link to an article decoding 4 rejection letter types you may see. http://lizkay.net/2014/05/03/advice-for-poets-what-it-means-when-a-journal-says-no-or-anything-other-than-yes/.

By the way, I prefer the term “response” over the negative term “rejection.”

Have you received an unusual response? Post a comment if you’d like to share.

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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. http://www.conteonline.net/issue0901/

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