If you are entering the business of submissions, you need to know some terms. The most important one to abide is “simultaneous submissions.”
Journals either embrace them — or hate them.
If a journal’s guidelines say they accept simultaneous submissions, this means you could go ahead and send those same poems, or some of those same poems, to another journal for their consideration as well. It gives you permission. It is not a requirement. Continue reading
It is not foolish. It is IMPORTANT to read your work aloud. You have to hear the word choices and how well they fit together. You have to hear the rhythm, and the places where the rhythm you have created fails.
Read to anyone, or no one. Be a bard and announce your words to the walls of your apartment. Whisper the poem to the dog. Read to a group of avid fans. Whatever you choose, you must MUST must read aloud at various points in the revision process.
Even better, ask someone else to read your poem to you. Someone who has never seen or heard the poem before. This will help you hear the sticky places in the poem — and with this information, you can set about finding fixes for those.
That’s it — one small, easy revision tip — and my thought for the day.
Midsummer stretches beside me with its cat’s yawn.
Trees with dust on their lips, cars melting down
in its furnace.
—Derek Walcott, “Midsummer VI”
And here it is, full-on summer, and I seem to be in that summer-sluggish mode. More hours, and what I want most is to sit and read, sit and write, sit and drink iced tea.
I learned about oppressive heat in Belize this past March. People hardly moved. I was told that the country’s motto translates to “In shade we prosper.”
But look at what Caribbean poet Derek Walcott does with heat…! Continue reading
Charles Wright, the new U.S. Poet Laureate
Virginia poet Charles Wright has just been selected the new U.S. Poet Laureate. He succeeds Natasha Tretheway.
He’s very honest about many things, perhaps most impressively, how difficult it is to keep writing. In an interview in The Paris Review, winter 1989 — now already 25 years ago, Wright states, “The problem with all of us as we get older is that we begin writing as though we were somebody. One should always write as if one were nobody, for that’s what we are…”
Portrait of Virginia Woolf
A solid week at 8,000 feet, and I’m sitting again in this chair — only this time I’m saying goodbye. I’ve begun packing, and stopped to sit and write this. Stopped to read more of Virginia Woolf’s At the Lighthouse. Stopped to look at the light landing on the floor.
I keep stopping, but I’m also ready to go back to my world, where I’m much wanted.
I did as much revision as I thought possible, which also was much more than I thought possible. Being alone with oneself is an interesting experiment, especially when that one is creating. There’s nowhere to escape… the voice is always there, following.
Donald Judd’s boxes at Chinati Foundation, Marfa, Texas
I worked all yesterday on an old poem about Donald Judd’s installation of 100 steel boxes in Marfa, Texas. I took the poem from a single stanza to four pages, making it a sequence of a sort. I shaped and reshaped, looking for boxes… and reshaped within that, sometimes minimalizing punctuation because I thought that would suit it.
All of which leads me to share a poem that isn’t mine but one that I’ve liked for a while… Continue reading