Very pleased to report I have a poem included in the new issue of Right Hand Pointing. Issue 92 of RHP went live today. It is full of outstanding work, and my piece, titled “My metaphors,” is in there. My gratitude and appreciation to Dale Wisely and Laura Kaminski for including my work in their magazine. If you check it out, I hope you enjoy it. Thank you, as always, for taking time out of your life to read and appreciate independent publishing.
This year I had the privilege of attending a lecture by poet Jane Hirshfield. In the span of about two hours, the poet shared with us some great insights, some stunning work, and a revision checklist that I think could help any writer with their poems. I thought I would share the notes I took from that lecture, and hopefully provide the insights I gained that might help any writer out there willing to read through them.
While artistic intent matters, it is important not to dwell too much on it, as it is up to the reader to find meaning in the work.
What else? This is the question that must drive poems that don’t abduct you. Poems are capable of carrying the poet away with inspiration.
Allow yourself to say things that aren’t 100% true 100% of the time.
Find the entrance point of an unreachable idea!
In writing collections/projects, you can approach this in different ways, either a cumulative project written in one time span, or grouping individual poems. The coherence doesn’t have to be obvious. When ordering, find the linear. Open strong and close strong. It is important to hook the reader in the first five poems.
Revision takes place from the inside and the outside.
Important for the author to know WHY the poem was written, and ask if the poem fulfills its purpose.
Outside revision requires outside readings, get assistance from workshopping it.
Read the poem wholly and assess what is found on the page. Look for grammatical unintentional errors, typos, etc.
Ask the poem these questions:
1. What does the poem actually say, as in the literal words on the page?
2. Does the poem say what it wants, or is it confused?
3. Does the poem follow its own impulse more than its original intent?
4. Does the poem go deep enough, take a risk? Can more or less be said to strengthen it?
5. Does the poem know more than before? Did it make a discovery?
6. Does it contain joy, depth, is there muscle in the music?
7. Does the poem want more music?
8. Does its rhythm, structure, etc help the piece achieve its meaning?
9. Does its visual structure support its meaning?
10. Is it true? Is it ethical? Does it feel?
11. Are there things that don’t belong? Are digressions in the poem’s best interest? Are awkward or smooth sections its best interest? Do any moments confuse the reader?
12. ARE THERE CLICHES?
13. Is the poem self-satisfied or predictable?
14. Is it precise? Precise is better than vague?
15. Does the poem allow itself to be strange, but not overtly strange?
16. Is the grammar correct where it is not intentionally unnatural?
17. Does the diction fit?
18. Is the poem in its most effective order?
19. Is the poem in the right voice?
20. Walk through the poem tediously, examining every phrase, every word. Make sure everything matters. Does every movement, every word, usher the poem forward?
21. Does this poem want to be seen, or is it merely a seed to move you to the next poem?
22. IS IT FINISHED? Time is the best editor.
These are the notes that were taken from the lecture. I hope you find them helpful. Many thanks to Vanderbilt University and to Jane Hirshfield! Get her new book: THE BEAUTY. It is fantastic.
This week my poem “Nashville, TN” was published in the August issue of Calliope Magazine. Calliope is a great local magazine run by Robert Olson here in Nashville. It is given out freely to the public. Next month I am the featured poet and they will be showcasing 8 of my poems. I owe a lot of gratitude and appreciation to Robert, who not only nurtures local poets, but helps provide venues for their voices to be heard through open mic night events. Robert does all this despite health concerns of his own that have been a challenge for him financially and personally, so thanks for everything you do, sir. You are something special.
Calliope is in the running for best magazine by the National Poetry Awards. You can vote for them at the link provided.
In other news this week, I found out my poem “Disco Ver(ses) in the key of American Hustle” was nominated for Best of the Net by Change Seven Magazine. Thanks to Sheryl Monks and staff for this honor.
Editor John Ebersole has been causing a stir by publishing many poems directly to the Philadelphia Review of Books blog – with a political slant. As part of this project, I submitted a piece, about the Baltimore riots and police brutality, that was published. This has been an interesting and unique experience to watch unfold, and to see everyone’s responses. Many thanks to John for giving this moment a voice, and pulling no punches. You can read my poem here: Guilt.
My poem “lethologica” appears in the latest issue of Redheaded Stepchild. Please check it out. I’m so grateful to have found a home for this poem, and in such good company. Many thanks to the editorial staff, with special thanks to Malaika K. Albrecht.
Four of my poems are now live at Eunoia Review. Go there now to read “Eleanor Rigby shows up to the party,” “An Ode to Home,” “I’ve asked the trees to write my biography,” and “Snow Devils.” Very special thanks to Ian Chung. I’m honored and grateful to be included.
My chapbook Father FIgures which has eleven five star reviews on Amazon, just received its first positive review to be published in a literary journal. The review appears as part of the December issue of The Lake, a journal produced from England. It was written by Gram Joel Davies. The magazine is edited by John Murphy. I thank them both, and all the members of their staff, for giving my work the opportunity to be scrutinized in this fashion. I’m eternally grateful to anyone who reads my work, and even more so if they recommend it to others, or share it with them.
I hope you will read the review, and then check out what else they are doing over there at The Lake, as they are doing great things.
I recently went to Louisville, KY at the behest of good friend Rachel Short, to do a short reading with fellow poet Erin Keane at November’s Subterranean Phrases. This took place on November 12th. I had a grand time, accompanied by my wife, who rarely attends these sort of events, and was a big fan of Erin Keane’s Bruce Springsteen poems. Cowboy Funeral provided the background music, and their style fit the work very well, a cerebral ambience that helps one get in the right mindset for poetry.
You can find some audio from the reading here as part of Rachel’s Keep Louisville Literary radio broadcast. Featured at that link is author/poet Joy Priest, and you will want to hear her work, as she is phenomenal.
Thanks to Rachel Short and Erin Keane and Cowboy Funeral, and the venue Decca for allowing me to participate in the event, as I rarely get these opportunities, and cherish every one.
I’m very excited to have a poem accepted for the next issue of The Mas Tequila Review. My piece “Dear Stepfather,” which is part of my chapbook Father Figures, will be included. Thanks very much to Richard Vargas for this opportunity. Looking forward to reading the whole issue and seeing who else is included.
Keep a look out for its release.