Thursday, June 25, 2009

How do you track submissions?

Recently, I've spoken with a poet who doesn't track them at all. I've heard from people who use Excel, and I've also heard from someone who uses index cards, a system he started before the digital age. It works for him. For me, it would get heavy.

In my new video, I show my (super-simple) solution. I also include a bad joke and some flying SASEs.

Take a look, and let me know how you track which poems are where, what's rejected, and what gets accepted.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

What I learned from Pie Week

Pie and writing?

I thought about this as I was rolling out for yet another crust. (The crust might be my favorite part.)

At the beginning of the week, I'd envisioned brushing up on my skills, getting better than I've ever been and turning out perfect rounds of dough. Pies as art.

I tried every trick I knew and several I'd just seen on TV, but quite a few of my efforts required a little patching. Or a lot of patching. Sometimes the dough would collapse just as I was putting it into the pie pan. Not the brilliance I'd imagined.

It reminded me how often I expect to be good at something right away—not that I have any evidence to back that up. Pie and writing—I want to be good at both.

And I tend to hope that my poems will be successful right away—say what I want to say, be delicious, get accepted, stuff like that.

When I start to feel disappointed, I should probably make another pie, and remember how much work it takes to get to where I want to go.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Pie week: The finale

Last night, I made an early summer favorite: lemon tart with lavender ice cream.

Thus ends Pie Week (although we still have some pie left).

Pie week, days 4 and 5

I'm behind on pie posts, but here's the update.

On Wednesday, Daniel made a Bing cherry pie. Sweet!

On Thursday, Claire made pumpkin pies, partly for a school project (something about the Columbian exchange).

I apologize that I don't have pictures.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Day 3 involves chocolate

Tarte aux aubergines de la comtesse Lisa
Don't be fooled. While the (French tart) cookbook has a story about Chateau de Blanville, this is a pizza—with tomatoes, garlic, eggplant, chevre, thyme, and pine nuts.

Tarte au chocolat infuse au basilic
Yes, the tart has basil in it—along with a lot of bittersweet chocolate. And the sauce is grapefruit, rosemary, and honey. I was a little concerned about pairing grapefruit with chocolate, but it was delicious!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Pie-palooza: Day 2

Tomato and fresh mozzarella.


How long can we keep this up? I don't know!

This just in: Narrative poetry contest

Don't let the title throw you. A reader sent me this: Narrative is publishing poems, and they're sponsoring their first-ever poetry contest.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Welcome to Pie Week

Pie-palooza is off to a tasty start.

This evening's dinner was onion tart (yes, I succumbed and had seconds), with a light green salad.

For dessert, strawberry-rhubarb pie. It's a classic—and half of the strawberries were from the backyard. The other half of the strawberries and the rhubarb came from the neighborhood farmers' market.

Pie: It's a food group.

Thank you!

Thank you to all who offered encouragement and support, here or in email, this past week.

I've received several more rejections since last Monday's post, and I've managed to weather them with my usual routine (a small sigh, a moment of disappointment, and then onward).

And now onward into Pie Week (aka Pie-palooza). Details coming soon.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Monday angst--the aftermath

Last night was rough. I got the Morton prize rejection and didn't make it even into the semifinals (again) and it's so hard to keep up hope. Rejection is not a new thing to me and I know that it comes with the territory, but...

Then they included reader comments, and a couple of them really cut me to the quick—they were general, and they were presented as blanket statements, which made it easy to assume that if my manuscript didn't make it into the list, it fit their statements. Reading them over this morning, it mostly wasn't so bad, except a still of them are still perturbing—a reference to "two styles most prevalent…a tired, almost stubborn adherence to narrative, and an airy, ironic detachment, with a fleeting interest in any particular subject matter." Ouch.

Then: "favorite manuscripts were capable of both play and insight, humor and strong emotion—preferably at the same time." Of course. But I thought that my manuscript was doing that—okay, maybe not at the same time.

I'm trying to remind myself that I don't have to go back and rip my manuscript apart based on these general comments about a plethora of work, perhaps none of it mine. Maybe because I have a stressful week at work, or maybe because I haven't been sleeping—I don't know why, but this rejection felt like a punch in the gut. My skin is still thin this morning. And take a deep breath.

I also was inspired on Sunday to apply for the Artist Trust Fellowship, and five days is not a lot of time to prepare a coherent application. Not a lot of time at all. I have ideas, but I don't know whether I can pull them into something thoughtful and professional by Friday. Would it be better to skip it and concentrate on my reading Thursday night? But the more I think about it, the more ideas I get. That's a good thing.

Everyone encounters rejection—and stress—sometime, somewhere. How do you meet it?

Monday, June 8, 2009


Spell check keeps flagging this as a mistake. What? Is "noodle" not a verb?

Can we make it a verb?

I've been noodling around with poems, trying to make them fit, trying to make them work. I am not a good reviser, not a good re-vision-er. I'm much better at the little edits, a new word here, a little smoothing of the music there. I can even move lines or stanzas around. I'm much better at all of that than I am at pulling out a line or two and ditching the rest and starting over. So I've been noodling, when I think that maybe I need to be ditching and pitching.

When do you feel like you've noodled a poem as far as it can get? When do you give up and start over? Or when do you just give up?