cimarron-review-1

The Spring 2016 issue of Cimarron Review arrived, and I’m delighted and honored that it includes my poem “Honey Locust,” along with poems by Alexandra Teague, Sandra McPherson, Marty McConnell, and more.

The poem isn’t online at this time, but it begins

Its leaves litter the front hall,
ambassadors with caveats,

and there’s a Marilynne Robinson reference. (Can you find that part in the book?)

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I know that it’s just a building, and that Hugo House lives on—thriving—and will return in a new building. But my history with the house goes back to when it was New City Theater, and I was trying to be a modern dance choreographer, and then the years of taking classes, teaching a few, readings and readings and readings—plus finding a publisher at an event called Finding Your Publisher. Last week when my daughter sent me a photo of the demolition, that part of the transition hit me in the gut.

Audience of Ghosts

When the house comes down,
the rooms of my body hurt—
empty air, all my years
in the second story now a legend
with no map, histories nesting
in my body like timbers splintered.

Shoulder to stranger we wrote
on the plaster, pen after pen
one kind of good-bye. There
is the hand I forgot to pack,
the words I forgot to look up,
buried the heart’s four classrooms,

steaming between my ribs the kitchen
when it was a dressing room,
the theater where I danced,
the cabaret table where I listened,
with red wine, the stage
where the sign said eat the mike.

When the house comes down,
only the shadows of rooms—
and our writing on the walls,
words into dust, debris
of the house come down
in the push and shovel, bucketful,

bucketful. Later, you send me a photo,
remains behind a cyclone fence.
I think of the house as a funeral
parlor, its older incarnation.
You tell me it was beautiful
seeing all our words tumbling.

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If someone asks you what you’ve been reading, and you gush on and on about this amazing book, and that someone suggests you write a review of it, you don’t say no, right?

Now the review is live on the Poetry Northwest website.

I’m grateful for this book and for the encouragement to write about it, for the people who helped me through the drafts, and for the chance to share it with you all.

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Someone asked me this the other day. My inside answer was, “How many do you have? I have only a few poems, so far, from all that writing, I am a slow, slow writer” and my outside answer was, “If they’re ready, send them out.”

The next question: “Where?”

There are the easy places to check:
The listings at the back of Poets & Writers and The Writer’s Chronicle
New Pages
The Review Review
Submittable (generally fewer listings, but you can subscribe by email, so opportunities appear in your inbox)

Many people use Duotrope (I haven’t in quite a while).

I also have a copy of Poet’s Market, and I should use that more.

Seeing where other people publish is also helpful. Check the acknowledgements sections of books that have poems akin to your poems. In an earlier post, I talked about reading, which is good for inspiration and learning and also submitting. Where are those poems from? After you read poems on Verse Daily and Poetry Daily and the poems that your Facebook friends post links to, check out the journals. Are they possible venues for your poems?

Summer is coming, and the number of pubs that are reading slims way down, but you can search on something like “poetry year-round submission” to find opportunities. Just remember to check the publication—do you like it, and will your work be a good fit?

Often I try to balance things—if I’m on a roll writing, I don’t worry about submitting. If I’m feeling stuck, that’s a good time for me to invest time and energy in sending things out. Anything to keep from feeling like I’m stuck in the mud. Sometimes, my wheels are just spinning: I have a long list of poems, and then I can’t figure out where to send them to, or they all seem like they need more work–they’re too young or  they’re too flat or I thought they were stellar and now I see only flaws (on the plus side, if I can identify what look like flaws, those are good candidates for revision). It’s easy to get overwhelmed.

And advice to myself: Take the opportunity. A gorgeous anthology is coming out, and I do not have any poems in it—not because my work was turned down, but because I didn’t even submit. I probably saw the call, and I probably and thought, “Oh, I don’t write poems about motherhood anymore” (which is not even true). I didn’t try, which is worse than getting a rejection. Read the guidelines, including the fine print. Try. In the meantime, revel in breathtaking poems by Karen Craigo, Beth Ann Fennelly, and others.

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WP_20160507_003 (322x500)Last night, my daughter and I headed over to Hugo House. The building isn’t closing just yet, and the house as a creative community will live on in a temporary location, but this was the official celebration good-bye gathering.

We wrote on the walls, we read what others wrote. We watched David Lasky drawing. I added exclamation points underneath the Viva ZAPP that someone else had scrawled. I wrote in the Winslow room, where I had taken many classes and taught a couple, where I found a publisher at an event called “Finding Your Publisher in the 21st Century.”

I stood in the theater where I had performed my own choreography when the house was New City Theater. I couldn’t get into the kitchen, which had been the dressing room in those days.

I saw some friends and missed many others. Walking through the narrow and very crowded hallways, leaning on the railing down the steep stairs, I came close to crying.

I’m not a good picture taker, but I wanted at least one of the house, and my daughter insisted that I should be in it. Thank you, old house with your ghosts, for being my creative home for so many years. The end of one era means the beginning of the next, and I’m grateful that the heart of Hugo House—its students, its teachers, its community—will keep beating.

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