Another Big Month

Last month was mostly about editing, and about entering two chapbook contests. Honestly, I didn’t write any new poems other than the ones I posted here and linked to for Open Link Night at dVerse. (And thank goodness for that weekly project — it really helps keep me from entirely checking out of the writing process during relatively fallow periods … or times when editing and submitting have moved to the center of the plate.)

When I made that deal with myself — that I didn’t have to push too hard and write a lot of poems in June — it was with the understanding that I would “really turn it on” again in July. This, I remembered on the night of June 30 — and immediately had a brief, silent freakout over it.

But guess what? I’m happily back to work, writing three poems a day. Not all of those have given me the feeling that is always my signal that things have clicked and that a poem bears follow-up attention, but some of them have. I have played around with different daily assignments for myself in the past during heavy writing phases, and I think it takes three poems a day to ensure that I get one really good one.

It is always so reassuring when I come back from almost a full stop and find that I do, indeed, feel like I still know how to do this. Isn’t this any artist’s greatest fear — that you’ll stop and never be able to get started again?

What about you? Does your process have wildly different phases like mine does (now, I’m editing — boom, a wall comes down — now I’m writing), or do you steadily produce new work no matter what else you’re doing? 

And what’s your greatest writing fear? Have you found ways to challenge it, or does it still keep you up at night? 


Two Chapbooks out the Door, Please Don’t Let Me Enter More

I just hit send on my entry for the Dream Horse Press Poetry Chapbook Prize. It wasn’t due until June 30, but it was not good for me to have it hanging around any longer. I needed to clear my plate, and now it’s sparkling clear (of my own work, anyway), and it’s going to stay that way for a while so I can focus on some editing projects.

The other one I entered, just a few days ago, was a chapbook contest from Blue Light Press. If you want to do that one, hurry! The deadline is June 15. I wondered whether my work is their cup of tea, but nothing ventured, nothing gained — and a poem in that manuscript references San Francisco, where they’re based. Meant to be, right?

Good luck if you enter these, or any other chapbook contests … wishing beautiful, tiny books for all!


Everything I Say I Won’t Do, I End up Doing

I talked a good game about not entering the APR Stanley Kunitz contest (poets under 40, you have until May 15 — and they do take electronic submissions). Entered it. Twice.

And now, after I’ve done all this waffling and carping about how I want to do a chapbook but don’t want to enter a contest, here I am trying to choose from among three different ones, all with June deadlines.

Could you help me, please? If you are familiar with any of the following publishers and can share a thought or two in the comments, I’d appreciate it. Criticism is fine, as long as it’s constructive — not looking to slam any publishers here. I will also order a chapbook or two as a sample, but time and money being short, I’d love to narrow it down to two before I start hitting that PayPal button. Anyway, here are the three I’m considering:

Anabiosis Press

Dream Horse Press (scroll down for the chapbook contest)

Blue Light Press

Thank you, thank you …



Some Questions about Chapbooks

So, a few things are pointing me toward the idea that how I ought to spend May is in putting together a chapbook. First, as great as it is to get individual poems published here and there, I feel a bit scattered and would like to gather together a few things all in one spot. Second, since I did both NaPoWriMo and PAD, I’m looking down the barrel of 61 poems that many will now consider to be “previously published.” Non, je ne regrette rien, but still … 

In the past, I’ve entered a couple-few chapbook contests but have never won — and then I put that potential chapbook aside and move on to something else. I’ve never seen one through to the finish line before, and maybe this is the time to do it.

There are a couple of ways I don’t want to do this: 1) I don’t want to self-publish (because, as you might recall, I’m someone who really needs the stamp of approval that comes from acceptance letters), and 2) I don’t want to enter a contest (because I’ve found that’s a very expensive way to get a rejection letter — and I already get plenty of those, just for the cost of a SASE).

If someone could point me toward favorite publishers who do more of an “open call” deal where they choose a small handful of people to publish, that would be much appreciated! Also, if you read a lot of chapbooks and/or have opinions about how they should be put together, how unified do you think they should be? Might I be able to pull something together from what I’ve written in the past month, if I gather the ones that seem to have similar themes? Or must I write a couple dozen poems all on the same general subject?

(If the latter, you know it will be evil garden vegetables.)

Again, many thanks to anyone who wishes to weigh in with big thoughts on tiny books …