publication — who needs it?

Julie has some unhappy thoughts.

I sympathize. What can you do? Poetry is a changeling kid with burning eyes. You can’t treat it like the other kids. If you put it on your to-do list, it will sit right up with its straight straight back and laugh at you. Between the eyes. With a laugh you think sounds like a spoon stuck in the sink garbage disposal until you realize it sounds like jasmine rice spilling over a glass table.  

And it’s moved in to stay.

How do you live with something like that?


A real diehard, indestructible, irresolvable obsession in a poet is nothing less than a blessing. The poet with an obsession never has to search for subject matter. It is always right there, welling up like an Artesian spring on a piece of property with bad drainage.

- Tony Hoagland, Real Sofistikashun

One of the things I did this summer was to look at all the poetry I have written as a body of work, rather than as disparate, random poems. Put it in piles, sort it by themes. I ended up with five main piles — poems of human dysfunction; relationship poems; motherhood poems; God-shaped poems and existential/human condition poems.

I was certainly surprised by the first and the fourth categories. But I wouldn’t call any one of them an “obsession.”

Sometimes I convince myself that all this time I’ve only been picking at the edges of a scab with this poetry lark and that somewhere there is indeed an obsession lurking.  And that I should just bite the bullet and rip it off.

The scab, I mean. To get the Artesian spring of obsession going.

Me being a property with generally bad drainage and quite suitable, I think.

behold, thou art fair

Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair; thou hast doves’ eyes within thy locks: thy hair is as a flock of goats, that appear from mount Gilead.

Thy teeth are like a flock of sheep that are even shorn, which came up from the washing; whereof every one bear twins, and none is barren among them.

Thy lips are like a thread of scarlet, and thy speech is comely: thy temples are like a piece of a pomegranate within thy locks.

Thy neck is like the tower of David builded for an armoury, whereon there hang a thousand bucklers, all shields of mighty men.

–Song of Solomon, 4

gratis accepistis, gratis date

Someone who knows who they are writes (not very helpfully, in my view, at this point, but we won’t quibble):

Have you ever looked at Bill Knott’s work online? A rare example of an established poet who could get published anywhere, but who chooses instead to make everything freely available at his own site, for reading, copying or downloads. So kind of the opposite approach to most poets online. Bookslut interview. 

Go, qarrtsiluni!

Editor Dave Bonta informs us that qarrtsiluni has updated its submissions guidelines to allow blog-posted poems if they appeared on the author’s own blog temporarily, or in an earlier version.

The revised guidelines are here. For editors’ comments, scroll down to the end here.

Dave and co-editor Beth Adams write: While we do want qarrtsiluni to be a repository of original writing, we also want to encourage the growth of a literary blogging culture, so writers shouldn’t feel that they can’t submit something simply because an earlier version of it appeared on their blog.

What they seem to favor is a middle-ground position that many established blogging poets seem to take — posting a draft poem for a short while, taking it down for further thought and revision, and not posting the final version.

Which brings me to confess that my own thinking on this issue has evolved to this very point over the past few months I have been absent from this blog. Although I was not writing, I was actively revising and I wanted to submit widely. In some cases to places that do not address the question of blog-posted poems in their guidelines (grrr). I guess I could have queried everyone ahead of time, but I just wasn’t in that mindset, with that degree of strategic patience, at that point (it’s a long story). So instead, I just searched ‘whale poem’ and deleted every last draft that appeared on this blog.

That’s what I did. (And some of those early versions badly needed deleting, frankly.)

And in future I’ll be doing the quick-temporary-post thing. Until things change again. Which I’m not saying they won’t.

Much much more on the whole blog-posted poem debate at this link.

Meanwhile, send in those insect poems to qarrtsiluni!

ignosce mihi…

Almost no writing since the end of NaPO.

Back in April.


But I’ve been beating up the old stuff. Shaking it up and demanding its papers. Making it line up and do drills and justify its existence, dammit.

I’m going to have a poetry manuscript one day.

for the record

A run of publication good luck in the last few months: I had two poems in the Words of the Web August issue (we have no need of prophets and scene in a parking lot); the glue makers’ guild in the fabulous SCR October horrorscape; and homecoming in October’s River Walk Journal.

Also heard that Mannequin Envy will take two of my poems for their December issue and Avatar Review has accepted one for their Spring 2008 issue.