New work update!

A few poems have been published recently, and I owe my thanks to the editors of the publications.

Thanks to Firestone Feinberg for publishing my poem “A poet dies” in the January issue of Verse-Virtual. This poem was a tribute to the late James Tate.

Thanks to James Penha for publishing my response piece to the Tamir Rice grand jury decision on New Verse News. The poems is titled “I killed the child.”

Thanks to Brooks Lampe, runner of Uut Poetry, for publishing two of my social media poems recently. These are experimental poems, and Uut is a great venue for such work.

Also, for those who are not aware, I released my collection of short stories two weeks ago now. If you are interested in my fiction, please check it out. The book is called It’s Not All Bad. Some scary stories in there, along with some work that is intended to make you think.

Year End poem for 2015

An All-Too-Familiar Tune

When election season starts
demagogues steal the light,
the media plays its part
a fistfight with the night.
Whose lives matter more?
The black, brown, or the white,
the gays or the poor,
can’t they just unite! Ha ha ha.

Bungle hells, bungle hells
a shooting spree a day,
they’ll sell a gun to a terrorist,
high five from the NRA.
Prayer fails, prayer fails,
from sea to shining sea,
they want to have theocracy
but it’s idiocracy.

The dress is black and blue,
if Ahmed built a bomb,
stand with Charlie Hebdo,
the refugees belong.
Kim Davis broke the law,
Martin Shkreli is a dick,
the Wu-Tang Clan sold their soul
to milk the deathly sick.

Bungle hells, bungle hells
a shooting spree a day,
they’ll sell a gun to a terrorist,
high five from the NRA.
Prayer fails, prayer fails,
from sea to shining sea,
they want to have theocracy
but it’s idiocracy.

Climate Change still denied
where winter doesn’t come,
millennials ostracize
their thoughts for martyrdom.
Don’t say the wrong word
don’t spoil their safe space,
Han can’t save the world
so put a flag upon your face.

Bungle hells, bungle hells
a shooting spree a day,
they’ll sell a gun to a terrorist,
high five from the NRA.
Prayer fails, prayer fails,
from sea to shining sea,
they want to have theocracy
but it’s idiocracy.

New poem published with RHP!

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.

Jane Hirshfield Lecture Notes: Revision, Collections, Etc

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.

 

FOR REVISION:

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.

New poem published and happy surprise!

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.

New poem up at Philadelphia Review of Books!

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.