Sunday, January 26, 2014

A poem

Gritty truth, human, you human, too human.
You are the king, queen, you are the knave.
Stalin dances on a coffee mug: no.
Y the dance.

Two dragons embrace, they cry.
Tigers grinning moanfully
Meatastic, you human

To the dogs go the spoils
bible smuggling, the other white meat
shoot me so I can never stop

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

I'm Trying to Jinx Myself

I've had a great run so far as a writer of fiction and other weirdo stuff. I'm really glad for it. It's a great outlet, this writing stuff is. I'm happiest when it feels most natural, and happily -- most of the time -- it feels very natural. I'm also happy for the places I've been accepted for publication. I want to acknowledge that first and foremost, so I don't sound to whiny here in a second (though I know I'll sound whiny, and that's no one's fault but my own). I've had a ton of success publishing my stories. I'm really proud of that fact. HOWEVER, there's one realm I can't seem to break into. I'm sure we all have our "targets," those of us who write and submit work. Mine of late (that is, for the past two and a half years or so) have been literary publications associated with MFA programs. Usually they're amazing! The ones I like definitely are. And so I can see how exclusionary this necessarily leads them to be, how exceptional the work must be. But still, with all that taken into consideration, I'm humbled by my lack of success. While I've had hundreds of stories accepted over the past four years, only one has been published by a literary magazine associated with an MFA program (Booth Journal, which I highly recommend you read, by the way). Yes, poor me. Pity me! No, I know. Obviously, no one should do that. Don't pity me in the slightest. I have nothing to complain about. And yet, here I sit, typing out a pretty obvious complaint.

I guess the difference is, I don't expect anyone to coddle me (certainly in the wake of a rejection, I feel a good deal of outrage -- but I know that's my problem. What's more, eventually the feeling abates and I'm rational again). It's just stunning, the lack of success. I'm really impressed by my failure at this point. I suppose that's where I'm going with this, the positive spin I intend to make. Here is a complete list of the MFA literary journals I was rejected by last year alone: Washington Square Review, Whiskey Island, Moon City Review, Black Warrior Review, Mid-American Review, The Journal, West Branch, Emerson Review, Devil's Lake, Superstition Review, Diagram, Quarterly West, LIT, Puerto del Sol, Ghost Town, Barnstorm, Redivider, The Minnesota Review, The Cincinnati Review, Bat City Review, AGNI, Phoebe, Beecher's Magazine, Noctua Review, Eleven Eleven, The Kenyon Review, Ninth Letter, MAP Literary Journal, Gulf Coast, Cutbank Literary Journal, Passages North and Fence. And that was just last year. It's a bit liberating to write them all out like this. I might be forgetting a few. I know I submitted multiple times to quite a few on this list, so this list will need to be multiplied by number of times submitted and number of submissions each time (I send flash and prose poetry!). By my count, thirty-two separate places. Granted, they're thirty-two of the most revered publications that publish literature in the country. And in case you're wondering, yes, I've read pieces -- if not entire issues -- from each and every one. Something drew me to each one of them (I try not to just send my work out in rapid fire). (I should also mention several have been very kind with personalized rejections that give me that nagging hope that some day something could change.)

So ultimately, my hope is that this jinxes me. That one of the places listed finally caves to my undaunted, stupid will, which I expect in time will happen, and I finally can be published in an academic literary journal (other than Booth Journal, which again is awesome, don't misunderstand me). Thank you.

UPDATE (1/23/14): Green Mountains Review rejected me yesterday. The streak continues!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Saying Goodbye to 2013 and Hello to 2014 -- Things Worthy of Checking Out

Firstly, a note from our sponsor that's written by me and goes as follows: I use Grammarly's plagiarism checker because sometimes it's the robotic, objective eye of an internet web-based program that can be the best friend to your writing, and sometimes it takes that kind of robotic and objective eye to tell you what others can't (i.e. your work "has flaws" or plainly "sucks" -- though Grammarly won't literally say your work sucks; that you will need to infer (I myself have gotten quite good at inferring such things)). 

Honestly, I've used Grammarly on a trial basis, pasted in some stories I wanted to have someone look at, and I was really pleased with the results. I consider it a good thing and encourage your considering it as well. 

Now moving on: 

I think 2013 was a good year for writing and reading.

Tenth of December arrived and was what I hoped it would be, even being nominated for a National Book Award. You can see more of what I read and what I thought of it here. That's a link to TNBBC blog, a blog I become acquainted with in 2013 and highly recommend you read. Lori Hettler runs it and runs very well, if I may say so.

I didn't finish as many books as I set out to read (I read 24 of a planned 40, according to Goodreads). I did start quite a few, thoug, for whatever that's worth. In the place of books (i.e. poetry and short story collections and novels), I have discovered the joys of a great many literary magazines, and here, to name some: Whiskey Island, Unstuck, Caketrain, Salt Hill Journal, Mid-American Review, Sleepingfish, The Lifted Brow and Black Warrior Review. All are places I'd love to see my own work published, but even if it never finds a home at any of these journals / reviews / magazines, I'll at least have the pleasure of reading them. That's plenty. I encourage you to check them all out.

I've decided in 2014 I'm going to read 50 books. To do so, I'll have to finally finish all the books I started in 2013, which I believe I can do. What's more I want to,  I want to be a more proactive reader of novels and that sort of thing.

A book I'm excited for this coming year is Bark: Stories by Lorrie Moore (it'll be out in February). I hope I don't have to explain why, but ok, I will. Because it's Lorrie Moore. Looooooorie Moore. She's great? Ever read her? Like her? Yes! Don't like her? What's the matter with you? Stop it. Self-Help is awesome. She is one of the great short story writers of our time, dammit.

Anyway, I think you should also be aware one of the great poets of our time, James Tate, has a few poems in the latest issue of NOÖ Weekly. What are you waiting for?