Monday 21 February 2011

The Woes of Reading Poets

will have an ancillary, like the woes of poetry-going audiences, but for now, I want to consider the poets themselves and the awkward situations they find themselves in.

How about the reading where your co-reader indulged several "camel yawns" as you read? (That is, head back, mouth wide open....)

Or the reading where a friend of a friend set it up and said this was a must-read place, and the only people who turned up were four of his friends?

Or the reading where you were told you couldn't sell books?

All these happened in the first year following the release of my first book, over 21 readings. I also had some very different experiences with amazing, appreciative organizers, but I'll get to them shortly. For now, I'd be glad to hear of other poets' less than splendid reading experiences.

Friday 18 February 2011

A first book contest without a fee...

It sounds most unlikely, but it's true, with consideration for authors outside of North America. Here are the details:

First Book Contest

Sponsored by the MFA in Creative Writing Program at Fairleigh Dickinson University and Serving House Books

We’re looking for exceptional prose and poetry from writers who have not yet published full length books. There’s NO ENTRY FEE, but there are some rules and regs. Please read carefully.

* Prose entries may be novels, story collections, or works of creative nonfiction. They should be between 40,000 and 75,000 words.

* Poetry entries may be a collection of poems or a single long poem. They should be between 50 and 100 pages.

* There is no entry fee.

* Winners in each category will be invited to the FDU Madison campus for one week as a visiting writer to participate in the BA in Creative Writing program. They also will give a public reading in New York City and receive 20 copies of the published book of their work.

1. All entries must be submitted in digital format as a Microsoft Word doc or docx or as an rtf file at:


* Entries must be received by midnight April 1, 2011 and winners will be announced on June 1, 2011.

* The winning entries will be selected by faculty members of the MFA in Creative Writing Program.

And here are the caveats and disclaimers in the usual small print.

* Current and former students, graduates, employees and faculty of Fairleigh Dickinson University may not participate.
* If a winner is not a resident of the United States or Canada, an alternative to the campus visit and New York reading will be determined.
* Work previously published in magazines, journals, or similar print or web outlets may be part of the entry manuscript with an indication of the publication source.
* Authors of the winning entries are responsible for obtaining all appropriate permissions and releases.
* The books selected will be copyrighted in the name of the authors.
* The sponsors reserve the right not to select a winner in either category if a suitable entry cannot be found.
* Serving House Books is a publication-on-demand publisher with all of its books available through and through major distributors. Certain works are also available on Kindle, iBooks, and Barnes & Noble in consultation with the author.

Tuesday 15 February 2011

Divining for Starters, third bite

Today it's a prose poem written for my father, on events that occurred four years ago this month. I hope to see some of you at tonight's launch!


A parent a plinth. The first week he regarded hospital as hotel. So the variables include the kind of stone, its consistency, the velocity of prevailing winds. What’s purer than an infidel’s prayer? How strangely, in the second week, the swollen limbs stiffened. And the effects of climate change: milder winters, more precipitation, two, three heat waves each summer. All American, non-Jewish whites are Christian by default. Incredulous, I realise his bicycle may rust and walk it to the shed. Such an ordinary act of reverence. The pulmonologist, the neurologist, the family physician. A bed is a bed is the smallest of bedsores. Blood doesn’t come into it. Ritual, of course, is another matter. A Midwestern town of that size exhibits limited types of architecture. I’ve yet to mention the distance. Come now, to the pivot, the abscess, another end of innocence. In every shop, the woman at the till sings, “Merry Christmas,” a red turtleneck under her green jumper. I thought jumper rather than sweater, a basic equation of space and time. Midnight shuffles the cards. Translated thus, the matter became surgical, a place on the spine. Each night the bicycle breaks out to complete its usual course. A loyalty of ritual or habit. “ICU” means I see you connected to life by wire and tube. A geologist can explain the complexities of erosion. The third week comes with liner notes already becoming apocryphal. Look at this old map, where my fingers once stretched across the sea.

The book is available with free worldwide shipping from The Book Depository.

Monday 14 February 2011

Divining for Starters, second taste

So tomorrow's the launch, and here's the second sample, from the new issue of Free Verse. These "poems for two voices" may, however, be easier to read on the page than on a computer screen.

The book is available with free worldwide shipping from The Book Depository.

Sunday 13 February 2011

Divining for Starters, first taste

My second collection, Divining for Starters, is now out, and in the three days running up to the London launch, I thought I'd post links to online work from the book. First up is "The Occupation of Iraq," first published in Shearsman and later part of Delirious Hem's 2008 advent calendar, to which this link leads.

The book is available with free worldwide shipping from The Book Depository.

Thursday 10 February 2011

Happy 13th, Katelyn!

can't speak to her, so I send my good wishes out into cyberspace: Happy thirteenth birthday, Katelyn Etter, aka Ella White!

Tuesday 8 February 2011

AWP Report No. 1: VIDA: Women in the Literary Arts

First report from the AWP 2011: the strong presence of VIDA: Women in the Literary Arts with their vibrant stall at the book fair, innovative fundraiser (with established male writers reading their favourite work by women and a dance party), and at the book fair, their splendid handouts on various issues, including why it's important to count the number of male and female contributors to magazines &c. and what it means. For further details, please see the VIDA website and more specifically their useful Resources page.