2018 a review

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4 minute read

2018 was the fruition of unimagined dreams. What I need is hard to know except by experience and hindsight, as Kierkegaard said, Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards – easier to muster one’s courage now in the pursuit of desire.

When I first began writing all I wanted was to approximate a certain clarity of emotion. I’d hoped and continue to hope for verse that taps my peculiar music as shared gift for the deeply reflective and compassionate person. In 2017, it was both joy and surprise when I began to be published widely. 

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Sixty-two times in 2018, I received the happy news that my work had been accepted for publication, resulting in seventy-one of my poems being published, in forty-six print and online periodicals, in five anthologies across Canada, the United States, and the UK. I had work translated, for the first time, into another language—Farsi, and I received four manuscript finalist honours and won the Poem of the Week Contest with Silver Needle Press.

I was beyond thrilled to gain three Pushcart Prize nominations from great weather for MEDIA, Crannóg Magazine, and Priestess & Hierophant Press. I also received two Best of the Net nominations to bring my total nominations for that honour to three.

IMG_20190102_222340Solitary creature that I am happy to be, I still owe thanks to several people who have supported me through a stressful period in my personal life.

I worked this past summer with Ottawa poet David O’Meara, whom I will be sharing the podium with at VERSeFest Ottawa 2019 sponsored by Arc Poetry Magazine. My initial apprehensions about letting a stranger into the solitude of my creative process proved to be unfounded. David guided my amendments using clear illustrations from his poetic ethos to question the choices he perceived as not serving the entirety of the discussed work. This exploration with him was one of last year’s highlights.edf

I thank Christian Sammartino who has now edited me across three different publications. I can’t say enough … or rather it’s impossible to say adequately! how much his encouragement and continual faith in my work has helped me hold a bold vision for my poetic.

Amy Mitchell and Aaron Schneider editors of The /tƐmz/ Review are exceptional literary citizens faithfully promoting current publications from past contributors. They have taken the time to think of me regarding other opportunities not directly related to their review, and I am grateful for this brotherly love and generosity of spirit.

cofThanks to Arc Poetry Magazine for their amazing and ongoing support in providing a mentorship and public reading opportunity—I am humbled! Thanks to the editorial team at Oxidant | Engine who accepted a mini-manuscript for publication this year, and to Alicia Cole’s dependable faith in my work.

Thanks to Lillian and The Doll you know what you’ve meant to me. Gratitude to my Twitter fam Bob Sykora (one of earth’s truly beautiful men), Bola Opaleke (who is going to do great things in poetry), James Rees, and Robert Frederic Kenter.

I had my first public reading in NYC with great weather for MEDIA in support of the terrific anthology, Suitcase of Chrysanthemums, thanks to Jane Ormerod, David Lawton, Thomas Fucaloro, and host George Wallace.

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My deepest affection and gratitude to John “Whit” Schweizer who has been, from the start of this journey, a motherfucking prince as my staunchest advocate, faithful reader, and emotionally present and loving friend.

As I’ve said elsewhere, in the work of creating it can take a breeze to bring you down but it takes a construction team of a hundred and a bucket of your blood to build one sound stanza. I’m thankful for the team in my life. I share the construction of 2018 with you.

 

what can you find at the intersection of the highways of poetry and physics?

photo: s. roberts

Sometimes it’s love.

The Physics of Love and Other Uncertain Phases of the Chemistry in Coulomb’s Law.

Read my suite of poems, exploring love, using five equations in physics as springboards, in the spring 2017 issue of The Gambler.

gratitude

imageIn May, I participated in a poetry competition that is unique in that the work is evaluated anonymously by the other writers in the competition. At the conclusion of the contest, you can access your feedback and see the names of the other participants if they’ve chosen to reveal their identity.

I use this contest to expose my most experimental writing to the feedback of several potentially unbiased poets.

When I’m in the spirit to start revising the works, I pull out that feedback and glean what gold may be found therein.

In the past, I’ve been disappointed by weak feedback and in many cases no feedback (where you are assigned a ranking against five other competitors but no comments). In my value system, a low ranking with detailed commentary is invaluable. I’ve even garnered a writing colleague from that very circumstance. A first place finish with no feedback is nice, but not particularly useful for my reason in participating in the contest. It is pleasant to feel that your work is liked, but if you don’t know what is or isn’t working for your readership, it is harder to gauge if something could be done to magnify your impact.

Going through the comments from my last submission, I was touched and encouraged by a few thoughtful comments on my work. It struck me that rather than have those comments lost in cyberspace, that I could memorialize them here—in gratitude.

Thank you to all of my evaluators for your constructive comments on my work.

“A very exciting read. I really enjoyed these poems. I like the experimental style, because it doesn’t come out as “forced.” It’s like «the content» has decided «the shape», and so it feels natural. The poems carry with them a fascinating blend of “mundaneness & passion & longing & coolness & city life & honesty & craving,” and the richness of this whole submission really speaks to me. Great work!” — Gisle Skeie

“The poems you have penned were great views into a new world for me. I was very interested in the many journeys I was able to experience. The unique perspective and levels of description definitely separate you from other poets[…] I feel like you are never afraid to try new things and challenge tradition. The knowledge mixed with vulnerability in some of your work creates a connection that very few can escape.” — Marcus Wright

Slim Tuesday was absolutely heart-breaking. The lines in your poem, Part [For] Me, “baby don’t call me callous when your looks are engraved in me scripted all along the back of my right shoulder” hold such powerful imagery that to call them merely beautiful seems like an insult to your artistic talent. They are raw, they are honest, and they made me feel in the depth of my heart this fire and anger and longing to be heard…god damn it! You should be proud of your work.” — Anonymous

nature’s first green is gold

“Poets are always taking the weather so personally. They’re always sticking their emotions in things that have no emotions.” J.D. Salinger, Nine Stories

stained glass mapleEvery time I come across this quote, I think, Salinger, mind your own business. Why don’t you? What skin is it off his nose if I experience autumn as a personal affront?

I’ve got thirteen trees in my backyard and I appreciate them, for what seems to me, their differing personalities. The oak tree that grew straight and strong from a stump has fortitude. The apple tree, I sang to and coddled from a bark damaged neglected sapling, has grown with appreciation into a sturdy beast that threw down two bushels of large sweet apples this year. Trees can teach you plenty if you are still enough to listen to them.

One maple is my quiet tree. It is over-shadowed by the trees that are bigger, make nuts, fruit, or scent, but for a brief period in the fall it shines. Its changing leaves range from bright-yellow gold to a deep-rosy salmon color. Situated where it is, it catches the rising sun for a few minutes a day; those minutes are embedded in my memory.

Salinger seems to intone that weather is just weather. Not to me. When that maple enters into its glory, it brings to mind that exact moment for every previous year. With nature, every fluctuation is a touchstone for the years before. Walking in the rain, reminds me always of a specific moment many years before. My friend’s mother died when a particular tree was in bloom.stained glass maple 4

All the trees change color and drop their leaves, but it isn’t until the maple is backlit, as now, that I feel the autumn and remember again my favourite Frost poem, and all the emotion that goes with moving forward and being unable to regain what is lost. Living requires constantly letting go and being let go of. My heart is broken every fall, and winter is the grief that must be endured till spring. click to tweet

Poets understand that people connect with each other over our significances. The ability to attach the memory of our emotions to the changes of weather that we all experience cuts across geographical, cultural or chronological divides. Weather blesses and curses, and even if it be indifferent to us how could I seeing it alive, as I do, be indifferent to it.stained glass maple 3

NOTHING GOLD CAN STAY

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf,
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day
Nothing gold can stay.
Robert Frost

writing competitions

Istained glass maple 2 have a love/hate relationship with word count. I want the story to take all the time it needs to unfold, on the other hand…I am intensely attracted and insanely infuriated by the challenge of the limitation. I think I could tell any story in 2000 words but in 1500 or even 1200? That is where your writing rubber hits the narrative road. My current project ended at over 2700 words and needs to get down to 1500 and still deliver its emotional payload. I edit and edit with the deadline approaching vacillating between a fury of frustration with myself to keep all the threads of the story present and in order and spiritual euphoria when what I am wanting in the story comes to me. A short short story requirement forces the aesthetic of poetry on the form of prose.