jmww Fall 2014 Poetry Theme: Poems in Translation

Paul_CelanThe Fall 2014 issue (October 1) of jmww will be a theme issue: poems in translation. We are reading now; spread the word! To submit work, please upload two to four poems in translation, along with the original text, that clearly designates the original’s author.

All submissions that are not poems in translation during this period will be declined.

To submit, please go to our Submittable page.

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Writing Ethnicity Workshop

SusanBarrelhouse editor Susan Muaddi-Darraj will lead a 6-week online workshop June 30th to August 8th that will focus on writing ethnicity. Workshop space is limited to 12 participants, and there are only a few spots left!

Register now at http://www.barrelhousemag.com/?p=1494.

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Writers Resource: Meg Eden Writes Poems

typewriterguyjmww spring 2014 contributor Meg Eden (“Rendering” and “Bird’s Eye Maple“) curates the Facebook page “Meg Eden Writes Poems”:

Publication opportunities, scholarships, readings, events, giveaways, and more! This site is a place for local and global writers to network!

Check it out here: https://www.facebook.com/megedenwritespoems

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A Book-Reviewing Primer

Good advice from Alyse Bensel (along with four points of advice) in the Los Angeles Review. (especially for us journals always looking for a few good reviewers):

The course transformed the way I thought of myself as a writer. For the first time, at the AWP Bookfair, talking to presses and journals with a clear purpose in mind, I felt like a literary citizen. Someone who cared and contributed to this thriving, vibrant community. A cliché maybe, but nonetheless still true.

To read more, go http://losangelesreview.org/book-reviewing-primer/.

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Excerpts from B/C by Joseph Riippi

BCIn today’s jmwwblog, we’re thrilled to publish excerpts from Joseph Riippi’s latest book, B/C, out from Civil Coping Mechanisms Press. Joseph will be reading in Baltimore on Monday, April 28th, at Artifact Coffee along with Maud Casey and D. Foy as part of jmww editor Jen Michalski’s Starts Here! reading series.

I want you to understand how good it feels to pass a blooming magnolia on your way to work while holding your wife’s hand.

I want you to know the love of your life. I want you to marry. I want you to believe the world is a beautiful place.

I want you to feel what it’s like to pass a blooming magnolia and have your body fill up with something like joy, inflatingly, warm and tender like under a blanket in childhood. I want you to know true love, and I want to know what you love. I want to know what it’s like to be the one who truly loves you. I want to know what it’s like to be the person who knows all your secrets.

I want to know all your secrets, and I want you to know mine.

I want to know the secrets of the old woman who lives in the single-family brownstone on 22nd Street with that blooming magnolia before its stoop. I want to know what she’s cooking on those nights we see her through the front window, framed between exposed brick and steel pot racks and basil plants. I want to know how she affords that massive home. I want to know her grey-haired husband’s name. I want to know her name. I want to know if I will recognize their names. I want to know if they are famous actors I just don’t recognize outside a screen. I want to know if they are famous writers. I want them to be writers. I want them to be people just like me who worked hard and were lucky and kept at it. I want a correspondence with them. I want to exchange postcards. I want to typewrite carbon-copy letters and read them only once they’ve been forgotten. I want to know if they raised children in that brownstone. I want to have been a child in a five-story brownstone, playing hide-and-seek, skinning knees on so many stairs.

I want to solve mysteries in a brownstone from a children’s book. I want to know what it’s like to have a child. I want to reread all the children’s books. I want to know what it’s like to watch a daughter laugh. I want to know what it’s like to watch a son throw a baseball in a summer field.

I want to teach someone the elementary things, like paper-airplane building and pencil cursive, long division and duck-and-cover. I want to teach algebra, the different sides of an equation. I want to teach fractions and fractals. I want to teach verb conjugation and subject, predicate, direct object. I want to scan sentences with a red pencil. I want to write sharp paragraphs on a chalkboard. I want to oversee a recess. I want to catch someone falling from a jungle gym. I want to play in the tractor tires. I want to play foursquare and wall ball. I want to play jacks. I want to play quarters. I want to play tackle football in a muddy empty lot. I want to play basketball on a netless hoop with a plywood backboard. I want to climb chain link fences to break into high school stadiums. I want to play two-hand touch in the street. I want grass stains on my knees and elbows. I want grass stains on my jeans and cashmere. I want grass stains on my cheeks and a chipped tooth. I want whiter teeth. I want self-cleaning clothes. I want bedding that smells of dryer sheets. I want a plaid picnic blanket and wine-filled basket. I want to chase grasshoppers and praying mantises up a hill like a poem.

I want to know if mantises are preying or praying. I want to know the verb-root separation between to prey and to pray. I want to prey like a mantis and pray like a grasshopper.

I want to grow very small and ride on a helicopter seed falling from a cedar.

I want to tell you about the time a childhood friend and I climbed high into a cedar tree with pellet guns slung over our shoulders. I want to tell you how we rested in steady branches, how we whispered, Lock and load, like imagined soldiers, how my friend whispered, Fire, and shot that mean old bastard farmer who lived next door in the eye. I want to tell you this didn’t happen, that I don’t remember the police being called, the crying, the I-didn’t-mean-to’s. I want to tell you it had been my friend’s idea, that it had been my friend’s cat that the mean old bastard killed with a rattrap. I want forgiveness for this, too. I want to say confession. I want to hear confession.

I want to tell you how the counseling center in college gave me pills that were supposed to make me feel better and how instead they just made me feel nothing at all, which was actually worse than the feeling I had that made me walk into the center in the first place. I want to tell you how someone called the center to say they were worried about me, concerned for my life, and how the counselor only told me that after everything had happened. I want to know who called. I want to know what they saw me do or heard me say, or didn’t, that made them call.

I want to know if I still sometimes do those things.

I want to not ever have tried alcohol. I want to not ever have smoked a cigarette. I want to not ever drink alcohol or smoke a cigarette again. I want to smoke pot, just once, just to see what it’s like. I want to not be afraid that I’ll like it too much. I want a less addictive personality, but I still want routine. I want to not write about this any more. I want to not repeat myself.

I want to confess on a highway billboard that I tried to kill myself and failed. I want to confess with light projection on the sides of tall buildings that I ate a bottle of pills but a best friend saved my life. I want massive forgiveness. I want total pardon.

I want to cry so badly right now.

I want to learn how to sing these awfulest things away.

B/C by Joseph Riippi (2014, Civil Coping Mechanisms Press)

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ORIGINS: Cris Mazza’s “Something Wrong With Her”

Something Wrong With Her VBT Banner

In today’s jmwwblog, Cris Mazza discusses the origins of the cover art of her new memoir, SOMETHING WRONG WITH HER as part of her virtual book tour.

The cover of SOMETHING WRONG WITH HER was changed after the original release date. Needless to say, this is a very unusual occurrence and not one that is usually advantageous to a book’s entrance into the world. In the case of this book, however, it’s part of the whole story. Since I couldn’t get the cover-change into the text of the book itself, I’m happy to have it play out here.

SOMETHING-COVER-COLOR (1)

The original cover existed for a full year before the release date, residing on my publisher’s forthcoming-books page. When I first saw the concept, I liked it. The book’s interior format contains images from a handwritten 30-year-old journal. Designed by my publisher, Debra Di Blasi, the original cover had a page of that journal as a screened background, and utilized notebook paper “holes” as a motif (inside the book as well). Because there is a “real-time” aspect to the memoir—including revision comments in sidebars—we used my handwriting to edit the subtitle to highlight that motif. Because the content of the memoir includes female sexual dysfunction (the medical term), my publisher thought it would benefit marketability to include the controversial word “frigidity” on the cover, but in my handwriting as an author-edit because I had discussed the inflammatory nature of the word inside the book. The military-font “stamping” of the word “wrong” in the middle of the title seemed to suit the theme of women viewing themselves as inadequate, or just plain “wrong,” in the face of culture’s capricious standards. It was a piece of a phrase that appeared many times in the hand-written journal, and obviously also points to the topic of sexual dysfunction.

But something happened on the way to the printer.

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Actually, with an interior format as complex as it was (and the sample page above is one of the simpler designs) the production of the book was taking longer than usual. Meanwhile, interviews with me were starting to appear when the original pub date came around, including some radio interviews on relationship-advice shows. But there was no book. The production dysfunction was beyond my publisher’s control: a new Adobe software had been introduced, replacing the one she’d been using, and the new program wasn’t ready for prime-time. At the same time that the government’s Affordable Healthcare website was crashing, the new bookmaking Adobe software was crashing during my book’s production. The healthcare website was fixed and running a full month before my book was able to be released.

In that amount of time, I had started working with a publicist. In a conference call with my publisher, the two of them discussed the cover. My publisher had already received some initial feedback that the cover was imposing, strident, that it announced negativity. Yet the memoir itself was imbued with a poignant story about reconnecting with a boy (now a man) from my past and the relationship with him that began to grow while I was writing the book. The development of that relationship is contained in the memoir—it’s the other “real-time” aspect of the book: as I dredge up and examine the memories, I am communicating with this man in e-mail. Those e-mails tell parts of the past story (from both perspectives) as well as the story of re-connecting. My publisher and the publicist both thought that the marketing—starting with the cover—should emphasize the reconnection story over the sexual dysfunction story.

Thus, Debra created a new cover and subtitle for the my book’s “second” release, 2 months after the original pub date.

SOMETHING NEW COVER smaller (2)

The whole motif of the “notebook” (with the 3-punch holes) was replaced with a design that indicated nostalgia: a yearbook photo on a soft yearbook-like album cover. The photo itself (yes, me) was black-and-white, so the publisher colorized it, further giving it a wistful effect (yearbook photos from before my time used to be hand-colored by the photographer).

The motif of using my handwriting was continued, but the subtitle replaced with “A Real-Time Memoir,” to highlight the love-story aspect of the memoir.

Since the process of writing the book is part of what the book’s about (including how the love story impacted the writing), then the story of the cover-change both represents and broadens the book’s whole idea.

What these changes say about how a book attracts readers is now up to readers to make known to us. I’d love to include responses in the book itself, but production does have to stop somewhere. Maybe to-be-continued.

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Baltimore Poet to Source Poems from The New York Times and others During National Poetry Month

carlaCongrats to Baltimore resident CarlaJean Valluzzi, who is one of 78 poets from seven countries selected to participate in the OULIPOST project this April. Coordinated by the Found Poetry Review, the initiative unites authors in applying the constrained writing techniques of the Oulipo group to text found in local newspapers. Valluzzi will be using The New York Times and others as her source text for the month.

OULIPOST is inspired by the experimental writing practices of Oulipo (Ouvroir de littérature potentielle — or “workshop of potential literature”) writers. Founded in 1960 by Raymond Queneau and François Le Lionnais, the group encourages the application of writing constraints to generate new structures and patterns.

“Oulipo constraints provide poets a chance to break free from the restrictions and challenges they face in their everyday writing practices,” noted Found Poetry Review Editor-in-Chief Jenni B. Baker. “We’re encouraging writers to be bold, take risks and write about topics they normally wouldn’t touch.”

Examples of the writing constraints poets will face range from relatively simple—a tautogram in which every word in the poem must start with the same letter—to a sestina, a fixed verse form consisting of six stanzas of six lines each, followed by a short three-line stanza. In all cases, the words and phrases incorporated into the poems must be taken from the poet’s local newspaper.

“I’m exceedingly pleased and honored to have been chosen to participate in this exciting and challenging endeavor for National Poetry Month,” explains Valluzzi. “Poetry, both the reading and writing of it, is as close to a religious experience as I’ve had.”

This is the third year the Found Poetry Review has led a project for National Poetry Month. Last year, the journal enlisted 85 poets to create found poetry from the 85 Pulitzer Prize-winning works of fiction as part of its Pulitzer Remix project.

Keep track of Valluzzi’s progress on her blog, at imisspaperletters.com. View updates from all OULIPOST poets at http://bit.ly/oulipost.

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Interview with Linda Simoni-Wastila in Writers Digest

Linda Simoni-Wastilajmww senior fiction editor Linda Wastila is interviewed in Writers Digest about her other writing love, poetry, her favorite poets, her favorite locales for poems, and her favorite things about poems themselves:

I like lean poems, ones that use few words well. I also like poems with endings that make me pause, make me wonder, make me read back to the beginning and go ‘ah.’ Most of all, a poem must be elegant and have an armature, be it meter or rhythm or structure, invisible at the surface but noticed when read.

Her poem “Hotdogs on the Grill” is also featured! To read more, go here:

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Closed for Submissions!

We are currently closed for submissions while we add the finishing touches to the spring 2014 issue of jmww. We’ll reopen again in mid-April. Happy writing until then!

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PARALLAX: Speculation by J. Barook

PARALLAX: Seeing the same thing from two different points of view renders three dimensions.

According to Wikipedia, parallax is a displacement or difference in the apparent position of an object viewed along two different lines of sight. The essays contained in PARALLAX reflect the same displacement. While the shift can be uncomfortable or jarring or even unrecognizable, a new reality is created from the old.

Another colleague was killed last week, stabbed to death by “unknown assailants.” Everybody’s careful not to spread rumors about who killed him or why, considering the politically charged environment in a part of the country with ethnic tension and an election coming up next Valentine’s Day. They put a picture of his punctured body in the newspaper that didn’t look like him at all. He was a sweet guy. Last time I saw him, we were drinking beer after a workshop talking about family. He had a wife and three kids. I had a wife and two. At a certain point, people got up and started dancing and shouting and laughing, people just having a good time. Suppose I should follow their lead and resist speculation as to who killed him or why. Last time this happened, they never caught the killers anyway. I couldn’t get anybody to tell me who they suspected then, either. Eventually I got a pretty good picture after a few late night drinks with folks. That time it had to do with corruption. This time, I’m worried it might be more political. But I shouldn’t speculate. It’s dangerous to speculate. You can make things worse. So I won’t. Anyway, I have no evidence for anything. Just that he was a politically important guy and things have been heating up over there for a while. But I won’t speculate. Anyway, this is just too sad and exhausting.

My wife’s at the gym right now. My three-year old is taking a nap upstairs. My six-year old is outside, playing on the wood pile in his glow-in-the-dark skeleton shirt. Sid the Science Kid is still playing on the TV to an empty living room.

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