The book my poem was published in arrived!
One of my poems was selected for publication. So thats awesome and new.
It’s the one I worked on for like two years, which is the longest I’ve ever spent on a piece. I actually wrote it for a friend who is a musician, he was going to write a symphony for it, but he didn’t give me a deadline, which is why it took so long. I don’t think he ever used it though.
I wondered why they chose that one out of all the poems I submitted, and I looked and one made religion and school into a metaphor for hell, one claimed religion tried to turn me into something im not, one was about Halloween, and one was my villanelle about llamas being evil.
The one they selected was about stars that go super nova, but as a metaphor for a relationship. I can see why they chose that one and not the others. It seems more literary and has less of a chance of offending someone.
So that’s cool!
I will try to remember to post about what the editing/publishing process is like.
Last week, I was contacted about submitting my poetry. The publishing company emailed me out of the blue, said they read the poem I’d published in my college lit journal, and they wanted me to submit some poetry for one of their new collections.
I was a little weirded out at first and obviously very wary. I mean, it was exciting, definitely. I never really thought anyone would read my stuff in the Uni’s journal, at least not anyone besides the 30 or so other kids who published in it and their families. Someone read a single poem of mine, and liked it enough they wanted to read more.
After researching the publishing company, they seem legit. I couldn’t find any negative reviews on google (and believe me, I tried). I read through the sample pages of some of their books on Amazon. They weren’t asking me to pay them to publish my work, and the contract allowed me to keep ownership of the poems.
I went ahead and submitted, so hopefully even just one is accepted.
Final thoughts: always research what you are getting into. Know if the company is legit. Take a look at the lists of publishers to stay away from. And understand what is being said in your contract. Good general life advice: never sign a contract you don’t understand.
It is April 30, which means it is the last day of National Poetry Month. I shared some poems I’ve written, and now I’d like to share some of my favorite poems by other people.
“This Be the Verse” by Phillip Larkin
They fuck you up, your mum and dad.They may not mean to, but they do.They fill you with the faults they hadAnd add some extra, just for you.But they were fucked up in their turnBy fools in old-style hats and coats,Who half the time were soppy-sternAnd half at one another’s throats.Man hands on misery to man.It deepens like a coastal shelf.Get out as early as you can,And don’t have any kids yourself.
This poem is exceedingly relevant in my life.
“maggie and milly and molly and may” by ee cummings
maggie and milly and molly and may
went down to the beach(to play one day)
and maggie discovered a shell that sang
so sweetly she couldn’t remember her troubles,and
milly befriended a stranded star
whose rays five languid fingers were;
and molly was chased by a horrible thing
which raced sideways while blowing bubbles:and
may came home with a smooth round stone
as small as a world and as large as alone.
For whatever we lose(like a you or a me)
it’s always ourselves we find in the sea
I really love the rhythm and rhyme in this poem.
“Afternoon on a Hill” by Edna St. Vincent Millay
I will be the gladdest thingUnder the sun!I will touch a hundred flowersAnd not pick one.I will look at cliffs and cloudsWith quiet eyes,Watch the wind bow down the grass,And the grass rise.And when lights begin to showUp from the town,I will mark which must be mine,And then start down!
Since it is National Poetry Month, here are some poems I wrote myself, since I don’t normally post my own work here. (I figured I’ll want to officially publish them some day or enter them into contests, but do you know how many contests I have entered in the last three years? Zero. So I figure maybe posting my work here will motivate me to write more. And, as much as I love my work and would like to publish it, if I actually sit down and start writing again, then I can guarantee that I will write something better. Not write away, but eventually, I will.)
I make my home in fire.
I sleep where others cannot tread.
I swallow flames,
red tongue licking lips,
and spit out the bones,
Your blazing breath does not burn me.
I’ve been to Hell to bathe in the gift of the gods,
but the flames did not consume me
the way you do.
This poem I wrote in my…second? year of college and it was published in our literary journal The Manastash.
“To That Narrow Bed”
I really want to go to sleep.
I close my eyes but try to keep
from drifting off while I’m in class.
Once work is done, I’ll sleep at last.
I wrote this brief poem as an exercise in class. Iambic tetrameter, I believe was the assignment. This one actually caused a bit of argument because my professor believed that “but try” is a trochee, not an iamb, with “but” taking rhetorical stress. I argued that no, it is an iamb because, while “but” is usually a pretty important word and often would take rhetorical stress, the important word is actually “try” which would take not only rhetorical stress, but also metrical stress. Of course, this led to a conversation about “Once the writer releases the work, it becomes subject to the interpretation of the readers, and writer intent means nothing.” Morals of the story: Don’t argue with your professor; he probably knows more than you do. And readers will always interpret your work in different ways, not all of them the way you intended. Don’t get too worked up about it. Just keep learning and keep writing.
It’s late October,
and as I follow my parents
up the steps and through
the Great Doors of the chapel,
perspiration builds between my breasts,
and I know I’ve entered
and the devil behind the pulpit,
in a voice that wobbles
like my knees after a night of
vodka and coke and Premarital Fucking,
tries to seduce the congregation.
and though I know this will all be
on the final exam for Salvation,
I lay my head down on the pew in front of me
and dream of Graduation.
Guys…guys…I was so burnt out in college. The only thing I could compare college to was being in Hell. And the only thing I could compare Hell to was being in church. Also, some guy in my class thought I missed a “prime opportunity” to say “sweating like a whore in church.” I thought the point was to be original?
based on Joyce Carol Oates’s “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”
Gonna get you, baby, says the stranger in the golden jalopy, wagging a crooked finger at Connie and grinning, his white lower lip drooping like he’d pinched it with a clothespin and it had gotten stuck that way. Gonna get you, baby. It’s 1966, and Connie is fifteen. Her sister June is the perfect daughter. She cooks, she cleans, she doesn’t fill her mind with trashy daydreams or buy burgers with boys she barely knows. Gonna get you get you get you, baby. Connie repeats the words in her head over and over, again and again until they sting, a sore in her mouth that she can’t stop running her tongue over, praying she could make it go away. Gonna get you, baby. Left alone at home by her family, Connie blasts Bob Dylan and paints her nails–fingers and toes, electric blue. As she dances around her bedroom, shaking the paint dry, a car pulls up. Gonna get you, baby. The devil steps from his golden Pontiac, calls Connie to the door. Flirts and flatters and smooth talks. But Connie’s smart, knows not to get into cars with creeps in dirty white tees and tight jeans. Gonna get you, baby. The lecher lurches toward her, wobbles in his boots. He promises in his honey voice not to come inside; he’ll wait for her out here. But if she tries to calls the cops, all promises are off. Gonna get you, baby. Her daddy, her mommy, and June, all at Aunt Tillie’s barbeque, are all gonna get it, he tells Connie, unless she runs to his arms like she knew he was her lover. She locks the screen door and grabs for the phone, but her fingers grow too weak to dial three numbers. When the wailing that fills her ears dies and her stabbing breaths begin to calm, Connie watches herself walk out to the old fiend and join him in his car. I told you I’d get you, my sweet, little blue-eyed girl, he says, and kisses her hand like a gentleman, a gentleman who doesn’t know his lover’s eyes are brown.
I don’t think you guys understand just how much I love Joyce Carol Oates’s “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” I love it, you guys. LOVE it. Anyway, the prompt was to write a prose poem. I tried to emulate Oates’s style. She uses a lot of complex sentences.
When Dorothy was just nine years old and
Timmy was only seven,
he told her he was scared of pumpkins.
He was sure, in October,
when the fog rolls in and the sky dims—
pumpkin bins in every store—
the pumpkins would rise and steal his head,
and replace it with a gourd.
Then with tiny carving knives and spoons,
the pumpkins would scoop out his
seeds for brains and cut holes for his eyes,
and though he’d try to get free,
they’d slice him a grin of jagged teeth,
and that’s why he hates All Hallows’ Eve.
I just love Halloween and wanted to try telling a story in poem form.
Do not ride the llamas. Do not even try.
They have not yet been trained.
They’ll step on your feet and spit cud in your eye.
We, the professionals, must always be nearby.
Should the llamas attack when you pet them, they’ll have to be restrained.
Don’t EVER ride the llamas. Do NOT even try.
Sometimes it calms them if you sing lully-bies.
but beware their hooves. Though they’re detained,
they’ll step on your feet and spit cud in your eyes.
The special saddle we’d need costs WAY too much to buy.
Even gently used ones often come bloodstained.
So do not ride the llamas. PleeEEEEeeease don’t EV-en try.
If you try to ride the llamas, you’ll most assuredly DIE,
and llamas, you know, are really hard to sue, even rightly blamed.
And they’ll step on your feet and spit cud in your eye.
Llamas are e-vil-er than parking-spot stealers and people who cut in line.
For everyone’s safety keep all of them chained.
And absolutely never ever ever ride the llamas. Don’t even try.
They’ll step on your feet and spit cud in your eye.
Villanelle. I used to own llamas. Someone in the class tried to argue that “eviler” in not a word and so I shouldn’t use it. As though this poem is 100% serious and people don’t make up words all the time.
This next poem is actually more of a parody. It is to the tune of “I’m Through with Love.”
I’m through with class
I’ll never go again
Bid adieu to class
I cannot stand it when
I am forced to write six papers
All at the same damn time.
My brain’s shut down
It really hurts to think
My stomach aches
I must be on the brink
Of complete psychotic breakdown
And so I’m through with class.
Why did you lead me
To think I’d be fine?
“This class is easy”
“You’ve got the time
To spend your evenings
Cramming and crying
For hours on end for English class.”
Goodbye to life and all it meant to me.
It will never be the thing it used to be.
For I spent my whole life studying
Now life has passed me by.
I was so burnt out, you guys.
Anyway, those are some of the poems I have written. Maybe next post, I’ll post some of my favorite poems that I didn’t write. Hell, maybe eventually I’ll post some prose. I’ve got one piece I think you’ll like.
Until next time.
I am really struggling with this blog. I said I would do a weekly post (ha), and that was really just to get me writing. I haven’t written really anything since graduating, and I feel like I’m wasting my degree.
I want to write. Honest. I have lots of story ideas.
But I’m not passionate about writing.
Here are some things I am passionate about: Sondheim’s Into the Woods. Ghosts/ghost stories/spooky stories. Stories in general. Editing.
I am very passionate about editing. I love fixing stories and sentences and scenes and structure. I love talking about grammar and structure and all the rest. But I feel like this blogs has been me talking about writing as a writer, not an editor. But since I don’t have professional editing experience (just when I tutored and workshopped in college and a little volunteer work recently), I don’t feel qualified to talk about editing, since I don’t actually know the business.
I think, going forward, maybe I will talk about the things I read in craft books and ways I would have edited something differently in novels/poems I read.
I reworked “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” with lyrics that more accurately portray the most wonderful time of the year. Spoiler alert: It’s Halloween.
(I was going to post my reworking, but suddenly I’m afraid of infringing on copyright laws.)
In my last quarter of college, I took a poetry class. The teacher: Xavier Cavazos.
I wasn’t exactly excited to take the class. I was almost done with my degree. I was burnt out. I was coming from a horrendous quarter of two creative writing workshop, in one of which the professor told us all we sucked at writing. I was burnt out, dejected, and pissed off, and I never wanted to read or write again. I was ready to get the fuck outta there.
So I take this class with Xav, 1. to fulfill one of my last requirements, and 2. because I’ve already taken fiction writing and non-fiction writing, so I might as well get some experience with poetry writing too.
Unlike a certain professor who crushed all my dreams and made me despise fiction writing, Xav encouraged us to continue learning and working hard. Xav actually gave us useful criticism and writing techniques, rather than just telling us “you need more character development!”
Yeah, I’m bitter about that, and I couldn’t really tell you what I learned in that fiction class, except “characters, characters, characters!”
But here’s what I learned in my poetry class (I’m just gonna copy and paste this from the post I made on Tumblr:
Firstly, don’t worry about structure. Not all poems need a specific form or structure. In fact, form poems can often be limiting because it forces the poet to make their words fit into a box and can lead to forced rhymes, phrases, and even whole lines. If you are stressing about writing structured poems, then maybe try free-form.
What I like to keep in mind when writing poetry are these three elements:
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
Like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
A technique for starting a poem is called “automatic writing” (Or stream of consciousness). Set a timer for 10 minutes and just write whatever comes to mind. This technique is especially popular in the surrealist category.
Don’t worry about writing something shitty. Pretty much every first draft is shitty, but you can’t start revising if you don’t have anything written in the first place.
Final tip: Be aware of how many adjectives you use. In the long run, less is more.
Okay, so the last two writer’s that read last quarter were Mark Wunderlich and Xavier Cavazos. Both were poets, and both were cool. Mark’s book of poetry (his 3rd) was very pastoral and religious in nature. Xav’s were more political. I got to talk with Mark one on one about poetry, and he was very helpful. One thing he mentioned trying is to write the poem backwards. Like, if you end with one image, move that to the beginning and start from there. (That was mainly because I wrote a poem about my love for pizza and didn’t reveal that it was pizza til the end, so it felt like a trick.) Use lots of imagery. And for me specifically, he advised me to try writing more metered stuff because that seems to be what I’m good at. This summer, I want to try and write a poem a day. Hopefully.
Xav sat in on my class for the last few weeks and will be teaching poetry writing next year. He said that it’s not done until you say it is, and when you say it is, it’s done. (Because sometimes you just need to realize that you can’t do any more on it.) He also said lots of other things, but it’s been a while. I’ve got them written down on his chapbook on my bookshelf.
Words by Rudyard Kipling, Music by Eric Whitacre
Oh! Hush thee, my baby, the night behind us,
And black are the waters that sparkled so green.
The moon, o’er the combers, looks down to find us
At rest in the hollows that rustle between.
Where billow meets billow, then soft by thy pillow;
Oh, weary wee flipperling, curl at the ease!
The storm shall not wake thee, nor shark overtake thee,
Asleep in the arms of the slow-swinging seas.