lynnpedersenpoetry:

Three of my poems from Tiktaalik, Adieu are showcased at Extract(s) Daily dose of lit. Huge thanks to editor Jenn Monroe for featuring these as part of National Poetry Month!

Originally posted on Extract(s):

From Tiktaalik, Adieu

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No plans and preparations without first having a vision, like an angel appearing to you in your bedchamber, or thought slipping in as you butter your toast, stir your coffee. And how to know what to pack, especially for a trip to where no one’s ever been? Easier to follow a river or a mountain range. I’ve read there are few new roads, that most roads follow common paths, follow the route animals have taken, as if the animals know the easiest grade to follow, the path of water, and the Oregon trail is just a dot-to-dot of Indian footpaths—so Lewis and Clark, or some other explorers, can’t take credit. And particularly difficult is the journey to a place that never existed—the Fountain of Youth. How do you map that? What part of a mountain range, what river corresponds to fantasy? Beginning is the hardest part…

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My chapbook, Tiktaalik, Adieu, is out in the world now and I’ve done an interview through the Speaking of Marvels website created by William Woolfitt. The site features Q & A with chapbook and novella authors.

The interview is here, and questions cover themes and process for both of my chapbooks, Tiktaalik, Adieu (Finishing Line Press) and Theories of Rain (Main Street Rag). Here are a few of the topics discussed over at the Speaking of Marvels site:

  • What are some of your favorite chapbooks? Or what are some chapbooks that have influenced your writing?
  • What are your chapbooks about?
  • What’s the oldest piece in Tiktaalik, Adieu? Or can you name one poem that catalyzed or inspired the rest of the chapbook? What do you remember about writing it?
  • Describe your writing practice or process. Do you have a favorite prompt or revision strategy? What is it?
  • How did you decide on the arrangements and titles of your chapbooks?
  • What kinds of writing (comics, dictionaries, magazines, novels, etc.) that aren’t poetry help you to write poetry?

One small fact I would include if I were doing the interview again today is tiktaalik (/ˌtɪkˈtɑːlɪk/) is an Inuit word for freshwater fish. The paleontologist, Neil Shubin, who discovered the fossil fish in Canada near the arctic circle asked the local Inuit if they would provide the name.

Both books are available from the publishers, and Tiktaalik, Adieu can also be ordered from this website or Amazon.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Year With Rilke

February 18, 2015 — 2 Comments

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I stumbled across this book of quotes and reflections by Rilke, A Year With Rilke (translated and edited by Joanna Macy & Anita Barrows). The quote for February 18, today, is my favorite. It’s from Letters to a Young Poet, July 16, 1903:

“I want to ask you, as clearly as I can, to bear with patience all that is unresolved in your heart, and try to love the questions themselves, as if they were rooms yet to enter or books written in a foreign language. Don’t dig for answers that can’t be given you yet: you cannot live them now. For everything must be lived. Live the questions now, perhaps then, someday, you will gradually, without noticing, live into the answer.” ~Rilke

The daily entries come from Rilke’s letters as well as his books of poetry. It’s a very attractive 5 x 7 inch hardback book with 365 pages.

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I recently read Letters to a Young Poet for the first time in many years (translated by Stephen Mitchell). It’s a short book, a compilation of ten letters written by Rilke between 1902 and 1908 to Franz Kappus, a young man entering military service. Rilke gives advice and insight to Kappus about what it takes to be a writer and an artist, and no matter where I am in my own writing life, I can find some sentence or thought that applies directly to me.

From the third letter in the collection:

Everything is gestation and then birthing. To let each impression and each embryo of a feeling come to completion, entirely in itself, in the dark, in the unsayable, the unconscious, beyond the reach of one’s own understanding, and with deep humility and patience to wait for the hour when a new clarity is born: this alone is what it means to live as an artist: in understanding as in creating.

In this there is no measuring with time, a year doesn’t matter, and ten years are nothing. Being an artist means: not numbering and counting, but ripening like a tree, which doesn’t force its sap, and stands confidently in the storms of spring, not afraid that afterward summer may not come. It does come. But it comes only to those who are patient, who are there as if eternity lay before them, so unconcernedly silent and vast. I learn it every day of my life, learn it with pain I am grateful for: patience is everything! ~ Rilke

Rilke’s idea of the artist maturing slowly–time of no consequence–is in direct opposition to today’s social media world of instant gratification. I highly recommend both books if this is an area of interest.

Broadsides for Poetry

January 28, 2015 — Leave a comment

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As part of book promotions, I am considering printing a broadside of a poem or two to make available online and at readings. Some poet friends have reported they had great success with this, particularly when an individual enjoys your poetry but might not want to purchase an entire book. There are presses where you can pay for your work to be custom designed and printed, and there are also presses that will allow you to submit work, and your work will be produced as a broadside if chosen.

 

City Lights Books has broadsides for purchase on their website, and I’ve been able to get an idea of how different the combination of art and text can be. This is an example of a poem, “Pity the Nation (After Khalil Gibran),” by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. This particular broadside sells for $40.00. I’ve seen broadsides at readings sell for much less.

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Here is a more colorful example, “Manatee/Humanity” by Anne Waldman.

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Smokey Road Press is an organization that will print your broadside for you, and design it as well.

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This broadside features is a quote from Carl Sagan about books.

“What an astonishing thing a book is. It’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.”

 

In another approach, broadsidedrpess.org will take poetry submissions of 25 lines or less (and prose of 300 lines or less) and produce a broadside for you if your work fits their aesthetic, matching your work up with an artist. It works like a literary journal submission process, in other words.

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This is a broadside of a poem by Laura Kasischke, “Owls.” (Closer view here.) Anyone can download and print these images.

From the Broadsided Press website, here is the monthly plan of how your work would be distributed:

On the first of every month, a new Broadsided literary/visual collaboration will be posted here for you to download.

What’s more, Vectors (this could be you!) will post them in cafes, hallways, and elsewhere. See where Vectors are posting and add your town.

Writing is chosen through submissions sent to Broadsided. Artists allied with Broadsided are emailed the selected writing. They then “dibs” what resonates for them and respond visually.

The resulting letter-sized pdf is designed to be downloaded and printed by anyone with a computer and printer.

Our goal is to create something both gorgeous and cheap.

We want to put words and art on the streets.

 

So many opportunities worth exploring!

 

** “2013 Haiku Year-in-Review” broadside from Broadside Press, featuring the poets Beth Feldman Brandt (Winter), Michael Rutledge Riley (Spring), Catherine R. Cryan (Summer), and Ron Levitsky (Fall).

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In lieu of traditional New Year’s resolutions, I’ve started making a writing inventory that summarizes what I’ve accomplished over the previous year and also includes writing goals for the next twelve months. My categories cover:

  • Books read
  • Books to read
  • Journals where I’d like to publish poetry
  • Journals I’d like to subscribe to (usually journals I’d like to target)
  • Conferences, residencies, readings to attend or participate in
  • Grants to apply for
  • Writing groups to join
  • Experimenting with writing schedules
  • Marketing plan for published books
  • Submission statistics and strategies

I’m on my third consecutive year of this project, and it has given me a sense of direction. It’s easy to become too focused on acceptances; I progress more in my work when I’m concentrating on the experiences that get me excited about writing. I was very fortunate this year to have a chapbook accepted, and a full-length book taken as well. With those two publications in-the-works, I feel freer to revise my schedule and try some new things. Some of my goals for next year extend to other genres:

  • See a play at each of the community theaters in my area
  • Submit the plays I have on hand
  • Write new plays, including monologues
  • Experiment with more cross-genre work
  • Experiment with script writing software
  • Work on new poetry manuscript
  • Read more short stories, cross-genre and experimental literature
  • Create a marketing plan for chapbook and upcoming book
  • Create a writing calendar that includes deadlines and events

 

Places to Submit Poetry

As part of my New Year plan, I add to my list of potential journals. I found a great list at entropy.org. It covers poetry as well as other genres: “Where to Submit Your Writing This Winter.”

Wishing everyone Happy Writing in 2015!

** If you like the clipboard with case above, it’s from mdpocket.com. Other writing notebooks I like include these:

Word Notebook 3-Pack by Word (has a checklist built-in) and Field Notes Kraft Ruled 3-pack

 

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These are on amazon.com and elsewhere.

How a Poem Happens Blog

November 13, 2014 — Leave a comment

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Poet Brian Brodeur has an excellent blog, How a Poem Happens: Contemporary Poets Discuss the Making of Poems. Brodeur interviews poets in a Q & A format, asking them about their process and inspiration.

I’m currently reading Burn Lake by Carrie Fountain, and she is one of the interviewed poets. The poem presented on the blog is Fountain’s “Experience.”

EXPERIENCE

When I think of everything I’ve wanted
I feel sick. There was this one night in winter
when Jennifer Scanlon and I were driven out
to the desert to be the only girls there
when the boys got drunk and chose
the weakest among themselves to beat the living
shit out of again and again while the night
continued in its airy way to say nothing. Sure, I wanted
to believe violence was a little bell you could ring
and get what you wanted. It seemed to work for those
boys, who’d brought strict order to the evening
using nothing but a few enthusiastic muscles.
Even when he’d begun bleeding from his nose, the boy
stayed. It was an initiation. That’s what he believed.
Thank God time keeps erasing everything in this steady,
impeccable way. Now it’s like I never lived
that life, never had to, sitting on a tailgate
while Jennifer asked for advice on things she’d already done,
watching the stars ferment above, adoring whatever it was
that allowed those boys to throw themselves fists-first
at the world, yell every profanity ever made
into the open ear of the universe. I believed then
that if only they’d get quiet enough, we’d hear
the universe calling back, telling us what to do next.
Of course, if we’d been quiet, we would’ve heard
nothing. And that silence, too, would’ve ruined us.

 

Reading through the interview, the comment that is most interesting for me is Fountain’s description of revision:

Brodeur: How did this poem arrive at its final form? Did you consciously employ any principles of technique?

Fountain: I did not consciously employ any principles of technique. One thing I often do while I’m in the middle* of revising is put everything in tercets or quatrains. I bundle the lines like this. That somehow disappears the breaks for me and helps me focus on the body of the poem, the syntax and the tone. Then I rip it open again and break the lines in different ways, modulating the pace. This is not a technique in traditional sense, I suppose, as much as it is a maneuver: a way of levering up the poem to get to its underside.

*Of course, I never know that I’m in the middle and almost always think I’m at the end of revising, very close to being entirely finished. Self-deception: is that a technique?

 

I like Fountain’s idea of breaking the poem into sets of lines to help focus on the essential elements of the work-in-progress, and repeating this process multiple times.

The entire interview for Carrie Fountain can be found on How a Poem Happens.

 

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Add Slipstream literary journal to your list of places to submit! The journal published one of my poems, “Decay,” in their themed issue 34 (Rust, Dust, Lust), and I was so impressed with the contributor’s materials sent to me. In addition to the journal, I received a postcard with the journal cover art, a copy of the most recent newsletter announcing upcoming contests, and a copy of Nicole Antonio’s Another Mistake, winner of the 2014 Slipstream Poetry Chapbook Competition. The chapbook is beautifully written and printed, and comes with a bookmark featuring an endorsement by Amy Gerstler, “Another Mistake is a powerhouse chapbook….a hyper-awake, penetrating, gritty, humane, fearless literary voice.”

Next Themed Issue

Slipstream has an upcoming themed issue “Elements.”

We are currently reading for Issue #35 and are seeking poetry that explores the theme “elements.” Creative interpretations are welcome. Submit up to five (5) poems in one document file only. We also are seeking artwork for the issue. Please do not submit again until you have received a response on the status of your current submission. DEADLINE for submissions is: May 1, 2015. No previously published work please.

Slipstream describes the type of poetry that is appealing as “poetry with contemporary urban themes and a strong voice.”

Chapbook Contest

The next chapbook contest deadline is approaching! Deadline for entries: Dec. 1 every year. $1,000 prize plus 50 copies of your chapbook.

More information on Slipstream’s website slipstreampress.org.