13 August 2014

Welcome, chill.

I just finished closing most of the windows in the house, because Fall is creeping in today. We're in the later stages of our home renovations, and I am writing my syllabi with the wail of a saw in the background. For several weeks now, I've been making my list of "how I will do things differently next summer." I'm ready for the semester to begin in a week and a half. Maybe more than ready. 

25 July 2014

While you were out.

Is it possible for something to be both super easy and terribly difficult at the same time? This is the question I've been pondering lately. I have a number of items on my plate, and can't tackle them yet due to various factors. So I guess I can plan, store up energy, and try to enjoy this part of the summer for what it is. 

Case in point: my spider plant decided to bloom (bloom? bloom!) while I was out of the office. I'm so happy I was there to witness it briefly and take a picture, even if I was wrangling the kids at the time and couldn't spend much time admiring it. 

This sounds crazy, but I miss being able to go to work. It's not just the daunting matter of confronting a burgeoning, roiling inbox without an inch of quiet, but the separation of spaces. I don't want to cook next to an stack of poems, unless I'm choosing to do so. I would really, really like to be able to write a poem. That will have to wait until September. 

In other news:

Huge thanks to [PANK] and Sarah Henning for reviewing O Holy Insurgency here. There's no way to describe reading a review of your work where the critic clearly understood not only the poems, but your motivations for writing them. 

I have two new poems in this kickass issue of Banango Street. Yay! 

Furthermore, did you know that Barn Owl Review is celebrating women writers this summer? Poetry editor Sarah Dravec has been contributing a series of reviews of books by women poets. Add this link to your bookmarks, and check back every week for a new review. It's like an Advent calendar, except weekly, and filled with brilliant reviews of brilliant books of brilliant poems. 

In the miscellany department: I realized I've lived in our house in Akron, OH, longer than I've ever lived anywhere. Nine years and counting. 

I think that's it for now. 

16 July 2014

Blog tour #mywritingprocess

I'm happy to finally participate in this blog tour, which I have been watching longingly from afar while buried in manuscripts and grading. Many thanks to Julie Brooks Barbour for tagging me. Julie's responses are here, and you must check out her poetry if you haven't already. 

Here's the interview:

1) What am I working on?

Primarily, I am working on not losing my mind over the summer. Having two school-age kids home, and no childcare, is always a challenge for writing. That said, I have ceased gazing longingly at other people's posts about retreats and residencies and some strange commodity called writing time. I'm counting the weeks and forging ahead. I am reading a lot of novels and making plans to send work out. So far I have succeeded at the former, but not the latter.

My current project is a series of prose poems in five or six stanzagraphs. Right now I have 18 pages, 5,662 words. I'm not sure if it's going to be a book or part of a book, but I just keep going. I didn't set out to write a series of prose poems, it just kind of happened. In June I wrote a poem a day, and many of those poems are part of this series. Since it's prose, it has a different scope from my other projects, and each poem is pretty different from the last, except for the presence of a consistent speaker. Themes: nostalgia, displacement, desire, unrequitedness. I've let myself be a little more objectionable than usual, because now seems to be the right time. 

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I write about uncomfortable situations and feelings, and include a lot of detritus in my poems. Sometimes I may care too little about the reader. I am guilty of harboring and cultivating obsessions. You might say that I am quite autobiographical, but I am also writing fictions at the same time.  

3) Why do I write what I do?

Demonic possession. 

Seriously, that's what it feels like. 

Maybe I'll translate that into "haunting" to make it a little more palatable.

4) How does my writing process work?

I have to take notes first. Lately, they've been on scraps of paper, or on my phone, though those often accidentally get deleted, which is a tragedy for me. I need quiet (ear plugs) and about twenty minutes. I've found that it's easier for me to write with my younger kid in the room (forbidden from interrupting) than to write while listening to both of my kids fight / potentially fight / stomp around. I am not a poet who has a writing space or a writing schedule. I have a bedroom and panic and a little time after dinner on some days. 

I need to finish a draft before closing the file and turning off the computer. This might seem more difficult when writing poems that are upwards of 400 words long, but the prose often comes faster than the lineated poems, for some reason. After I finish the draft, often I re-order the stanzagraphs. Sometimes I'll write a more poignant closing line in the second of five stanzas, and then rearrange. 

As usual, I read the poems aloud as I write them, each line at a time. I don't move on until the previous line feels right. Often I run out of time, and have to hurry to the ending. I put myself in a writing trance, and try not to allow any non-productive distractions to push me away from the poem. That said, I also allow productive distractions to influence me during the day. I may be watching a swimming lesson, but inside I am thinking about a girl who hitchhikes her way to a gas station on the edge of town. 

Next up in the #mywritingprocess blog tour is fellow Akron poet Nathan Kemp. His writing process is pretty damn fascinating. You'll find his responses here next week. 

Nathan Kemp is a poetry editor for Barn Owl Review, an associate editor for Whiskey Island, and a social media editor for H-NGM-N Books. His work appears or is forthcoming in American Microreviews and InterviewsColumbia Poetry ReviewCream City Review, and The Destroyer. He lives in Akron, Ohio.

04 July 2014

Akron postcard: 7/4 edition

Say what you will about Ohio, but this state goes all out when it comes to skies. Here are some premium clouds for your vicarious enjoyment. 

27 June 2014


Things are getting a little lazier here in Akron, OH. It's time to put your ears back and lounge on some wooden stairs. Or at least that's what Klaus seems to think.

I've got a new poem up at Ampersand Review, which you can find here. It's called "The Jolly Anchor," and it is part of a prose poem project I am working on right now. Not sure if this will be the little book brother of Small Enterprise, but it's definitely coming along.

A Sunny Place with Adequate Water made its Cleveland debut last weekend at a lovely solstice reading. It's now in stock and available at SPD and Amazon, and Black Lawrence Press is running a special sale for the remainder of June. If you're looking for a review copy, please contact Diane at BLP, and please accept my thanks!

12 June 2014

Akron Poetry Prize: deadline approaches

How have I been spending all of my spare moments, and not-so-spare moments, lately? Reading manuscripts for the Akron Poetry Prize competition, of course. The deadline is 6/15, but since that's a Sunday we have no problem whatsoever if your postmark is a day late or so.

This year's final judge is Maxine Chernoff. The prize is $1,500 and publication of the winning manuscript (though all manuscripts are considered for publication in the Akron Series in Poetry). Every submission is read by the series editor (yours truly), so your manuscript will not be languishing in the disenchanted mitts of a screener. 

For more detail on the contest, check out this interview.

Finally, a few words of thanks to the Quaker Square letter carrier, who has been incredibly patient with all the bundles of manuscripts arriving every day. 

09 June 2014

A very sunny giveaway offer.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

A Sunny Place with Adequate Water by Mary Biddinger

A Sunny Place with Adequate Water

by Mary Biddinger

Giveaway ends July 06, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.