On Submission Fees

On one hand, I think they’re terrible.  But to an extent, I get it.  In a way, I understand.  There are so many writers these days, and so many submissions, and not enough time.  And if I’m not spending a few bucks on postage and large manila envelopes (but that feels so writerly!), I can spend them on the reading fees.  I suppose that is a fair point. And we all benefit when journals have time and resources to read and edit and publish and not go under.  Absolutely.

A recent trend I’ve seen is journals accepting no-fee subs up to a certain point, say a certain day during the open call, and  charging after that.  Others have fee-free periods and fee-based periods. I like those approaches because just as writers recognize the need some journals have for fees, these editors and publishers are saying “we get it, too.  You’ll go broke submitting to as many journals as possible, and you need to submit to as many as you can, because there is so much competition (which is why we need the fees).”

It just feels like a better system.  Or maybe it’s solidarity.

I’ll pay a solidarity fee.

Just not too many of them.

 

 

 

To a Poem is a Bott the Stranger

A few thoughts on this.

I’m not sure if I’m inspired by the overall success of some of the language or if I’m terrified by it. I am leaning towards inspiration, but I also tend to romanticize things.

That said, some lines really stand out:

“the wind is only for me.”
“there’s part of the world between the darkness”
“the father of the light is not a fist of the bones.

The line about the wind is almost identical to something I read yesterday, which I think was by Antler. I’ll share it here when I can find it again.

The darkness line is lovely, and reminds me of “Break on Through,” by The Doors.

“The father of the light is not a fist of the bone,” is to my ear very similar to the idea behind this line of Christian scripture: “anger does not produce the righteousness of God.” That’s James 1:20. James 1:17 says “every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

Data for Breakfast

Code is Poetry. This is part of the WordPress philosophy. As a coder and a poet, I have always loved this phrase. I decided to turn this phrase around and ask, Can I make poetry with code? Could I make a bot that could write original poetry? I created an experiment to find out.

First off, I knew that if my bot was to learn to write poetry, it first had to read poetry. In 2017, authors used WordPress to publish over half a million posts tagged as poetry. I reached out to some prolific poets sharing their work with WordPress and asked if they’d be willing to collaborate with me on a fun experiment: would they allow my bot to read their work so that it could learn about poetic form and structure, so that it might learn to write its own poetry? Special thanks to these intrepid…

View original post 2,064 more words

Milestones

We were having a picnic, the late summer, ’93, a milestone barbecue birthday.  None of us had to cook, which is no small thing when you’re all in the food business, mobile concessions with hot flattop grills and fryers throwing off wavy lines and bad skin.

There was a tent in the yard with circus stripes, yellow and white like a hard-boiled egg.  My friend Dwayne, who was called Bubba, brought the October solicits from the comic book shop.

Batman #500 was gonna be big.  New costume, new bat-#&%! and broken jawn under the hood. The Knightfall arc was long and exhausting, for Bruce and for us.  500 was the payoff, the resolution, the all-new Batman in an era when all-new anything came with variant covers, pre-boarded and bagged, everything die cut and metallic.  I think Cable #1, with its hologram cover, came out the day of the party.  Comics were events, and huge stories were everywhere.

I was reminded of all this today by a post from Graphic Policy looking back on the milestone Batman issue. It’s hard to believe everything from 1993 will be 25 this year, things like the death of Superman and Batman #500.  Me turning thirteen, my Dad turning 40.

You only have to write one true sentence, Hemingway said.  I’m trying to write one true sentence a day.

Pushing Through Fences

Twice in two days I’ve encountered poetry with the image of livestock pushing through fences.

The first was Robert Okaji’s piece I linked to yesterday.

The second, which I came across today, is from Valerie Worth:

20180119_135439_hdr1117726488.jpg

Years ago, we went to an adoption event at a local pet store. I had never had a dog, which every child should.  Childishly, I thought we’d bring home one of the black lab pups, industrious, oblivious, silly. But a year-old Aussie shepherd, brown and creamy and with people-eyes, pushed through the fencing of his black steel crate and asked to join our family.

I wrote yesterday about the healing power of dogs. He was the best at that.

The Healing Power of Dogs

I don’t always know what to do with all the media options available to us now.  It’s a contradiction, I know, because I have very recently complained to friends and to myself about the lack of good things on the internet.  I’m always skating very near the edge of the end of the internet, like Francis Fukuyama with much smaller stakes.

Then I find myself as wrong about communication as he was about history.  The cycle hums, the weekend comes, and these days are yours and mine, these happy, happy days.

I have OCD, so sometimes I get stuck in loops.  Sometimes I’m just loopy.  But what happens is this: I fall in love with WordPress or Twitter or Reddit for awhile.  I start again with poetry and prose.  By the time I go to bed I’m embarrassed by my enthusiasm.  There’s some kind of chemical remorse for having celebrated life.

Which is odd, because this is not how I live any other part of my life.  There are loops and loopiness, but never nagging guilt at having spent time on good things.  It’s tough for me to figure out, though I understand some of it.  A lot of it has to do with sometimes just not wanting to be bothered.  OCD is an anxiety disorder, and there are others, and if you have them, you know they love playing with each other.

This morning I was sick.  I had plans to write and work and clean, but my stomach felt in a mood to drive the balance of the action.  I laid down, and my German shepherd and my cousin’s beagle, whom I have adopted, laid on top of me and let me sleep for hours.  The sick part of feeling sick never, ever came.  The healing power of dogs.

Nothing against cats or their people.  My cat has done this, too.

Rested and busy (busy writing, busy reading, busy with the details of ministry and business and all the snow we’re having) I have today seen some great things on my WordPress feed, and so I share them.  One is a poem by Robert Okaji.  Another is this drawing by Luther Siler. He was sick today, too, but drew a fox, and it is awesome.

The healing power of (goats and cats and) dogs.

 

 

 

 

Robert Okaji: Sometimes Love is a Dry Gutter

Lava is an evocative image.  In the last week, I’ve seen in it three poems. One in a bookstore, one I wrote partly in response, and now this from Robert Okaji, published at Vox Populi: Robert Okaji: Sometimes Love is a Dry Gutter.

It’s used very precisely and sparingly and at the same time almost jarringly Okaji’s beautiful piece. Steeped as I often am in pastoral imagery (that is, of things having to do with land and animals and farming),  I also found myself pleasantly surprised at how effective the image of the goat is here.  A beautiful poem, and very well done.

 

On Uses of Your Time

Before I became a pastor and a food trucker, I earned an MFA in Creative Writing from The New School and taught writing for a season at a college in the Bronx.  Before I did that, I went to Yale Divinity School and got my MDiv there.

I write a lot.  Every now and then, I submit old or new fiction or poetry to various literary journals.  I’ve been doing this long enough to have watched the submissions process change from mostly postal to various electronic formats to the now-standard service at Submittable.  I’ve watched the rise of submission fees, and I refuse to pay them. I try to spend more time writing than writing about writing.  I’ve had various plan Bs.

There are more journals now than ever.  They all say variations of the same thing.  Send us your best work.  We are picky.  We want to highlight emerging writers.   And we do, and they are, and they do.  At the same time, there seem to be more small presses than ever, which is a good thing.  There are also more writers than ever, and here I mean very talented ones.

It is always tempting to start a new journal, edited and curated by me, reflecting only my tastes.  It is always tempting to do that, until you realize that means your own work gets pushed further and further to the back.

The key, I think, is persistence.

That’s not a revelation.  It may be a reminder.

No matter your vocation, and I really mean this, no matter your vocation, you will be tempted to give up because you’ve tried so hard, so long, because life or people aren’t fair, because the meritocracy has failed, because you hold current tastes in contempt (too much or not enough), because you are too revolutionary or your politics too nuanced.

The key, I think, is perspective. Live your life, take care of your family.  Take care of yourself, and let people help.

The rest will come.  Or won’t.   It’s not up to you or your talent. In the end, it doesn’t matter.  There are millions of talented people, and you are probably one of them, whether I know your name or don’t.  Bless the people around you.  Be talented in that, and build that talent up in you and other people.