Saturday, April 5, 2014

Five Things that Don't Suck, Grading-Free Saturday Edition

1. the title of this post
2. all that it implies
3. sleeping in a little bit
4. going for a run
5. reading and more reading

Friday, April 4, 2014

Five Things that Don't Suck Random Friday Edition

1. the first flower in the yard*
2. the bees getting all out and about and coming home with pollen they're finding from...somewhere
3. being all caught up on grading before the weekend comes
4. Friday afternoon nap potential**
5. recliners

*don't know what it is; could be a weed; don't care
**because, with the possible exception of a snow day nap, a Friday afternoon nap is the sweetest nap there is

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Five Things that Don't Suck, All-Poetry Shameless Plugs Edition

1. encouraging you to a comment on this blog post in order to be entered to win a free book (or two!) in The Big Poetry Giveaway in honor of National Poetry Month
2. having a poem in this book of sestinas and being really proud of it because the anthology is so awesome
3. the friends and fellow writers who were willing to record audio for these five poems of mine at The Poetry Storehouse, where they're available for other artists to use in their own creative work*
4. this poem of mine at Heron Tree, where it's the featured poem of the week**
5. this poem of mine at Stirring***

*The Poetry Storehouse: bonus TTDS #1 for today
**Heron Tree: bonus TTDS #2 for today
***You guessed it: Stirring is your bonus TTDS #3 for today. You're welcome

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Five Things that Don't Suck, Knowing How to Spell Edition

(a.k.a. feeling pedantic edition)

1. lightning*
2. definitely
3. every day**
4. drawer
5. work out (verb)***

*as opposed to lightening, which is something totally different
** as opposed to everyday
*** as opposed to workout (noun)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Guest Post: The Writing Process Blog Tour with Sandy Marchetti

As part of the writing process blog tour, I’m happy to host this guest post from Sandra Marchetti. Here’s a little bit about her: Sandra’s debut full-length collection of poetry, Confluence, is forthcoming from Gold Wake Press as part of their 2015 Print Series. She was named the winner of the Midwest Writing Center’s 2011 Mississippi Valley Chapbook Contest for her volume The Canopy. She was also a finalist in Gulf Coast’s 2011 Poetry Prize and Phoebe’s 2009 Greg Grummer Poetry Contest. Sandy has recently published poems in The Journal, Nashville Review, Phoebe, Subtropics, Gargoyle, Sugar House Review, Thrush Poetry Journal, and Stone Highway Review. Please welcome Sandy Marchetti:

Ruth Foley, the fabulous Managing Editor of Cider Press Review and author of Dear Turquoise from dancing girl press, was kind enough to ask me to participate in The Writing Process Blog Tour here on her Five Things blog. I’m really excited to share my responses to these questions on my writing process, product, and innovations with you. Thanks, Ruth! Here we go:

What am I working on?
Well, my first full-length collection, Confluence, will arrive in December as a part of Gold Wake Press’ 2014 Print Series and a fine press illustrated chapbook entitled, A Detail in the Landscape, containing micro-essays and poems, will arrive this summer. You might say that now I’m “between projects.”  I’m a slow writer (I write a few times a year in bursts that last a couple of months) and fastidious reviser, so it’s difficult for me to get started on new work. With that said, I feel I have squeezed all the juice I can out of the poems I have produced—every single poem except five from my forthcoming full-length collection have found publication, some twice—and it’s time for me to begin in earnest my second book. However, my headspace is currently pretty clouded with work related to poetry rather than ideas for new poems.
With that said, I’m hoping to dedicate a huge chunk of my free time this summer to the new work, which I envision as a poetic and personal history of the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. This spring and summer I will be attending Cub games, as I always do, and travelling to some other historic ballparks (minor and major league) in the Midwest. Although I have already drafted a few pieces for this project, I’d like to write a sonnet crown detailing Greg Maddux’s experience listening to recordings of his games at Wrigley Field; poems exploring the geometry and other mathematical patterns of the game; and narratives describing my father as a boy, tuning into WGN radio broadcasts of games, specifically Sandy Koufax’s 1965 no-hitter against the Cubs. I hope to have time and space to read and experiment with prose pieces on related topics as well.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?
As Ruth so aptly mentioned in her post last week regarding her own poems, I feel that my poems are also quite “tightly wound” sonically. In fact, the sound of a poem often comes to me before subject matter and sometimes even before an image. I hear and feel the undulations in my poems and follow my music through its own spiraling sequence. I also use sound-mapping techniques to maximize that sequence’s structure throughout a piece. Poets have to make music from words only—we don’t get notes and lyrics as musicians do—and it has always been challenging and very satisfying for me to twist a poem into an artifact that brings both sonic pleasure and thought to the fore. My work is probably unfashionably rhymed for its contemporary poetic moment—sometimes I’m not sure if I’m writing for our century. However, I know I’m a contemporary poet because of the amount of angles/slant rhyme/open ended-ness I attempt to get away with in my work. I often receive comments on the images or colors in my poems, comparing them to Impressionism in visual art. I write short pieces (hardly ever over two pages), and my poems (thus far) have often explored the natural world. I’ve always thought of myself as an odd mix between a traditionalist (I write in forms and always in some meter) and a “fractured image” poet (taking many of my cues from New York school poetics and beyond). With that said, the poets whose feet I’d kiss include: Elizabeth Bishop, John Ashbery, Li-Young Lee, Sylvia Plath, Octavio Paz, and Carl Phillips. Contemporary presses and journals I love include: Sundress Publications, Thrush Poetry Journal, The Southern Review, Yes Yes Books, Flyway, and so many others. I also like to read poems that are more narrative than my own—I’m not sure why. Everyone likes to be told a story, I think.

Why do I write what I do?
To begin with, I’m probably a writer (rather than an artist, or a historian, or something else I was interested in as a kid) because writing always seemed like a challenge to me. I knew I had some talent for it, but I was never “the best” writer in my grade at school. The wrangling of words is a maddeningly perfectionistic way to spend ones’ days (or ones’ weekends) and I am maddeningly perfectionistic. So, identifying as a writer suits my natural personality to a tee. (Rest assured; the younger me was perfectionistic about nearly everything in life and now I only allow myself to be that way in my writing!). Why do I write poetry? I love how spare it is. Poets do it with less, and more beautifully; again, it’s a challenge. Also, poems allow for music, as mentioned above and let’s be frank: I’m horrible at creating believable characters. Ultimately, I want to blow a reader’s hair back the way I feel my hair blown back when I read a great poem. I suppose want to make my own spine tingle, too. We all know poets are just adrenaline junkies (!).

How does my writing process work?
I work in cycles and take great comfort in routines. When I know I will have a morning to myself to “write,” I turn off tech and mindfully make a pot of coffee, smell the beans, look out the window, and go to my desk. Sometimes I’ll just read a collection I've read 100 times, revise a piece, send submissions or actually draft a new poem or two. I’m obsessive about cleaning my workspace (aka the entire house) before any of this begins. Then I sit in silence doing that thing I love, completely oblivious. It’s rejuvenating and rarely feels like work at all once I start.

I know that I’m lucky to have a spouse that a.) is the best reader I’ve ever had for my poems, and b.) works nights and weekends when I don’t. This way I have the time to write and also someone to help me revise. My husband Scott, a very creative chef and restaurateur but not a writer, sees the interworkings of my poems with a deft, generous, and ultra-perceptive eye. His suggestions always make my poems better beings. Also, as I mentioned before, I am an obsessive reviser, so most poems go through 80-100 drafts (ranging from full-scale revisions to tiny edits) over multiple years before I consider them anywhere near “done.” Since I don’t write as often as I’d like, I hardly ever throw anything out; all scraps eventually become poems because they are so precious and rarely received. I also mentally recycle ideas quite a bit.
Thanks so much for reading this self-interview. It’s really refreshing to be completely honest about process and how one makes a poem. If you want to know more, you can find me at:

This great exercise for all—I recommend it! In fact, watch for posts by these three talented poets next week as The Writing Process Blog Tour continues:

Sara Henning’s poetry, fiction, interviews and book reviews have appeared or are forthcoming in such journals as Bombay Gin, Willow Springs, and Crab Orchard Review. Currently a doctoral student in English and Creative Writing at the University of South Dakota, she serves as Managing Editor for The South Dakota Review

Allie Marini Batts is an MFA candidate at Antioch University of Los Angeles, meaning she can explain deconstructionism, but cannot perform simple math. Her work has been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize. ELJ Publications published her chapbook, You Might Curse Before You Bless, in 2013. 

Lisa Marie Basile is the founding editor of Luna Luna, a mischievous little women’s arts & culture site. She also edits the micropress Patasola Press and is co-editor for Diorama Journal. Her work can be seen in Best American PoetryPoets & Artists Magazine, PANK Magazine, The Nervous Breakdown, La Fovea and others. She is the author of Andalucia (The Poetry Society of New York) and Triste (Dancing Girl Press). Her newest chapbook, war/lock, is forthcoming from Hyacinth Girl Press in 2014. Noctuary Press, run from University of Buffalo, will publish her full-length poetry collection, APOCRYPHAL in June 2014. 

Five Things that Don't Suck, No Fooling Edition

1. April is National Poetry Month
2. April is also National Greyhound Adoption Month
3. and 4. These two:

5. This stuff:

Monday, March 31, 2014

Five Things that Don't Suck, At Least It's Not Snow Edition

1. this kind of moisture is exactly what plants need to wake them up
2. it's hard to slip on a puddle
3. rain doesn't need to be scraped off my car before I can drive it
4. while tomorrow, this kind of rain might put me at risk of getting May flowers and, as a result, Pilgrims, since it's still March, these showers are almost 100% guaranteed to be Pilgrim-free, even here in Massachusetts
5. rain boots made to look like frogs*

*or other animals, but really, the frogs are adorable

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Big Poetry Giveaway

I'm excited to be participating in the 5th annual Big Poetry Giveaway. What's that, you ask? Excellent question, I reply. Here's the deal:

I'm giving away three books (two chapbooks and a full-length collection) to celebrate National Poetry Month (otherwise known as April). To win, all you need to do is leave a comment and contact information on this post. Ta da! You're entered. During the first week in May, I'll use a random number generator to choose three winners, get in touch with you for contact information, and mail you the book. It costs you nothing—no postage, no handling, no selling of your soul to some sort of spam-generating mailing list.

If you're a poet and want to participate in your own giveaway, head over to Kelli Russell Agodon's blog The Book of Kells to see what's what. I wouldn't be doing this without her. Here's (part of) what she says about the reasoning behind the Big Poetry Giveaway: The goal is to share our favorite poets with others as well as to visit different blogs and see who others are reading. Sounds good to me.

The rules state that I must give away a copy of one of my favorite books, so I'm giving away Fugue for Other Hands by Cider Press Review's own Joseph Fasano. 

I know, I know, I'm one of the editors for it, but you know what? If I can go through the whole editorial process with a book and then come through the other side still loving it, it's a pretty damn good book. Joe's imagery is staggering, and there are poems in there that I get caught up in every single time I read them. If you win and you're already a supporter of CPR's work (i.e. you already own this amazing collection), I'll send you a different book, possibly something from CPR, possibly something from my own collection. I guarantee it will also be a book I love. Surprise package! It'll be just like playing Let's Make a Deal except you won't have to wear a costume, and nobody will ask you what's in your handbag.

I'm also giving away copies of two of my chapbooks. I'll even sign them for you if you want. The first, Dear Turquoise, is the first chapbook I ever put together. I've posted about it widely on the blog, so I won't go into detail here (feel free to click the "Turquoise" tag to pull up posts). It's also available through dancing girl press. (That link, by the way, is to their catalog page, not to my chapbook specifically--take a look at everything they've got over there. You won't regret it.) Or through me!

The second is the first chapbook to come from my own press—Ghost Stories. It's not all about ghosts—although there are some ghosts in there. Let's say that it involves ghosts and other ways of being haunted. It's so new I don't even have a clean cover image for you, but here's a quick picture I took of the first test run on my dining room table. If you win this chapbook, I'll give you the choice between a copy from the print run (hand numbered and signed) or, if you want to take your chances on striking it rich after I'm famous (and dead), I'll send one of the test run copies (also hand-numbered and signed, but marked as a test run).

It's also possible I'll be in the process of printing a second chapbook by the time the beginning of May rolls around. If that's the case, I'll throw in a bonus copy of whatever that chapbook is, one for each winner. What? I can hear you asking. A second chapbook, also for free? Is she CRAZY? Yes. Yes, I am. If I were any crazier, I'd need to be filming this blog post so that I could rapidly zoom the camera in and out to demonstrate how crazy I am. Let me say right now that I have no idea if this will be one of my own chapbooks or one by someone else. I also have no idea if I'll have one. NO PROMISES, PEOPLE. (But I'd really love to be able to do it!)

So, in case you followed someone else's link over here, let me tell you a little bit about myself:

I am a poet, writer, editor, English professor. I'm the Managing Editor for Cider Press Review, and as I mentioned above, I just started playing with printing my own chapbooks. Over the next several months, I'll be expanding into printing chapbooks from trusted friends/fellow poets, and hope to eventually be able to print awesome chapbooks written by awesome strangers who will become trusted friends/fellow poets.

I am married to a man who is a serial hobbyist, and who used to claim I didn't have any hobbies. That was before I started baking all of our bread and covering our dining room table with paper cutters, various card stocks, binding thread, and the like. Pretty much as soon as we bought a house, we started looking for a dog, and we found a retired racing greyhound who moved right in and made himself at home. We named him Neruda, but he answered to Rudy. We now live with two retired racers, Butler and Gracie, named after Yeats and Paley respectively, and love the breed. We also keep bees, and I like to think of them as "practice chickens." If we can figure out a way to be gentleman/woman farmers, I think we probably will.

I love gathering people in my house and feeding them; running; dessert (too much); figuring out how to do things (a.k.a. learning); figuring out even better ways to do things (a.k.a. improving); teaching; old black and white horror movies; bees; that moment when I'm cooking or baking something brand new for the first time and I realize it's happening exactly the way it should; animals; compost; becoming good at something that initially intimidated me; grandfather clocks; Thom Gunn; hanging out with writers (seriously, while not all writers are funny, some of the funniest people I know are writers); the Oxford comma; the word "buoy"; Italy; the water; piƱa coladas; getting caught in the rain.

I had to break up with the ocean for a few years because it was too painful for me to be there, but we've been coming to terms over the past year or so. We'll see what the summer brings. I'd still rather ride a wave to shore and stand up a little bloody after scraping myself against the sand than float placidly on a lake in an inner tube, but I'm more than happy to do the latter as well.

If everything is going well I have enough time in my day to get a little restless. That's where my creativity comes through. I'm really good at time management, and can sandwich different steps of multiple processes together in order to be as time-efficient as I can. I get comically excited when I figure out a faster way to organize a process. It's more than a little geeky. But it's not because I'm a fan of being super-productive; it's because I'm a fan of being lazy. I work best when I have some time--ideally, lots of time--to be lazy, so I try to get all that other stuff done as quickly as I can without having quality suffer.

I have been known to take a really good book into the shower, leaving one hand outside the curtain to hold the book (I've never really mastered this, though, and now our shower has doors on it, so it's impossible to do this without soaking the floor); close just one eye at a time while reading in a vain attempt to stay awake long enough to finish a chapter; write lines of poetry in the condensation on the shower door in an attempt to remember them long enough to get them down on paper.

And that's about it for now. One book, two chapbooks, three chances to win. Leave your name and contact info (unless I have it) in the comments to enter. Good luck!

Five Things that Don't Suck, Even When You're Up Way Too Early on a Sunday Edition

1. turning leftover roasted vegetables into hash
2. putting a couple of over-easy eggs on there*
3. toasting some whole wheat bread
4. serving the whole thing with Awesome Sauce**
5. not having to take the dogs out into the rain because your husband got up and did it earlier

*yes, runny yolks. Your eggs may vary and, I suppose, it's even okay with me if you choose to forgo the eggs entirely. I won't pretend to understand it, but it IS your breakfast, after all.

**seriously, we put this stuff on everything--the Peruvian chicken is great, but the leftover sauce goes on sandwiches, eggs, hash, quesadillas, pretty much anything we can think of. If you're one of those cilantro-tastes-like-soap people, use parsley. That's also awesome, but in a different way.