Saturday, June 30, 2007

Legitimate Famous Poet Semi-Finalist

Now I understand the need to aim advice at beginning poets, most of whom are still learning the basics of publishing. It makes sense to at first teach the general rules before getting into more complicated stuff. So you start off by saying "Before submitting read the magazine -- become familiar with the style and content of what they publish. If you decide your work is a fit, follow the submission guidelines." You can repeat that 100 times and still a significant percentage will ignore that advice because they're too busy or can't be bothered or aren't interested in reading. Those people will send out massive quantities of submissions and will almost always be rejected because:

1. They didn't follow the guidelines.
2. The work wasn't appropriate for the magazine.
3. The poems suck because they're written by people who read very little poetry and don't know the first thing about it.

It's just the way things are -- and when editors are asked for tips/advice on how to get published they often go into a crazed tirade about people not following the guidelines and not being familiar with what their magazines publish -- because they get so many of these types of submissions, over and over, every single day, it's maddening.

This is the way it will always be. People joke about starting a Poetry Idol. Every magazine's slush pile is Poetry Idol -- minus the TV airplay and telephone voting.

It's also important to warn the unsuspecting of scams where they could potentially be bilked out of money or explaining that their self-published book is unlikely be stocked at any bookstores. Of course, few poetry books are stocked in bookstores period.

There's so much basic information about publishing that people don't know. I remember the difficulty I had explaining to my dad what I was doing when I started my own micropress -- how yes while I was publishing one of my chapbooks, I was mostly publishing other poet's works. He didn't understand, why was I doing that? Why weren't they doing it themselves? Were they paying me? I found myself taking books off of his own shelf and pointing to the spine, "See this? This is the author. He wrote this book. See this? This is the publisher. They put the book together, they're marketing it, they're arranging for distribution, etc."

It's like when I was 17 and my dad was teaching me how to to drive, explaining how a car engine worked, how I was going to be responsible for making sure my oil was changed regularly and not driving around on a flat tire.

I was all "I don't care about any of this. I just want my driver's license. Stop bothering me with these annoying details! I just want to drive. Stop holding out and tell me the secret to passing the test. I'm ready already!"

Back when I was a kid and my aunt wrote a book and somehow she hooked up with an agent that said she wrote just like Tom Clancy (somebody she never heard of at the time) -- and she liked to brag about how this agent was very successful and wore a lot of big gold chains. I was a kid and I'm not remembering everything, and I'm not sure if she paid him anything, but it sounded pretty fishy at the time (she was even talking about it being made into a movie). I have another aunt who paid several hundred dollars for children's writing correspondance course and they sent her a certificate that she hung on her wall.

Did they get scammed? Probably. But those experiences gave them validation and made them feel good. On the other hand those experiences never got their work into any kind of print or to any readers. So I guess the question did they get what they wanted?

We can apply this same criteria to the "legitimate" options out there. I paid to attend two different MFA programs. The first one something along the line of $9k in out-of-state tuition. Did I get what I wanted? Hell no, that's why I left. The second I paid $20k. Did I get what I wanted? Somewhat. I have my *terminal* degree. I received a pretty good education. Made some dear friends. But it really didn't teach me much about publishing, well it tried, I was given advice -- advice that wasn't particularly applicable to my situation or interests, but "legitimate" advice nonetheless. To be honest, I learned more about editing and publishing from working four years at AOL. I didn't realize it at the same, didn't appreciate it, but I learned a lot there *and* they were paying ME. Also, I've learned WAY more about contemporary poetry, different styles reading poetry blogs and online magazines. Was I scammed? No, but any ideas I had of the program/degree "making me a poet" were extremely naive. I was already writing poems -- already a poet. Did I become a better poet? Sure. The opportunity to have other poets read, discuss and give critical feedback can be very helpful. Were there other ways of becoming a better poet? You betcha. Did I become a master poet or a master of the poetry field? No. And I hope I'm never considered a "master" of anything. As far as I'm concerned, that's a pretty offensive concept.

The first couple years out of grad school I spent around $1000 on first book contest fees. Did I get scammed? Well, I feel really foolish for doing so. It was a poor way to spend my money. I could have bought a lot of books with that money. I could have put out a lot DIY books with that money.

But I wasn't as foolish and naive as my aunts were, was I? I mean, sure I spent a heck of a lot more money than they ever did -- but I did it "legitimately" -- didn't I?

Legitimate Poet hah hah hah

No wonder this is all so confusing to people new to publishing.

No wonder so many one-time contest enterers, post-MFAs are saying This stinks. I'll do it myself.

But aren't I encouraging hoards of awful, untrained, unskilled people from writing and self-publishing mountains of dreck?

I don't know, what does it matter? Do I hang out at tennis courts and tell the crappy players to get off the court? Do I shout "Get off the stage!" at Karaoke bars?

Maybe if I'm drunk.

I'm not drunk now.


Friday, June 29, 2007

two drafts

Below are two poems I started last night for my God Damsel manuscript. I'll keep them up over the weekend, giving hundreds of people the opportunity to read them. It's also possible an archiving bot could cache these drafts making them available in this form for all of eternity.



Schroeder's PAPP

It's nice to be wanted.

And it's true, I do devour children.

And cats

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

My Anecdotal Evidence

No Tell Books bestselling authors are Rebecca Loudon and Shafer Hall. They're both loose, blog-poem-posting hussies. Turns out all their poem-putting-outing developed them an audience.

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I Totally Disagree

with the [policies stated in the] above Writer's Digest blog post (edited for clarity) and totally (and respectfully) disagree with Didi.

I mean, I agree any magazine has the right to define publication as it likes for it own purposes and if one decides to submit to that magazine she needs to follow the guidelines.

But that blog post reports panelists insisting that reading a poem on a radio show is "published" -- if anyone in any way can access your work it's "published" -- and honestly, I'm not so interested in definining the term "published" which seems to somehow equate to used, ruined and sullied, no magazine is ever gonna marry her, dirty dirty poem!

"Published is published!" -- don't share your work, you're giving it away for free and if you give it away for free, even if it's just to a small group of readers, no respectable magazine editor will want to publish your poem (for free!).

That's right toots, you gave it up to the wrong fella and that's your poemie end. Go cry with the rest of the slut-hag poems.

But I am interested, very interested, in discussing what is in the best interest of poems, poets and magazines ("publications" I sometimes refer to them as, I don't refer to this blog, or my recording a poem as a "publication").

The concept of poem as a "commodity" is both silly and troubling to me. Scarcity is not helping anyone. Business models do not fit/work in the world of poetry -- with the possible exception of a handful of very popular dead poets.

My General Stance

My Response Regarding the Status of Blog Posted Poems

My Response (in the comment field) Regarding Poem Scarcity

Speaking of well selling poetry books -- whether they be anthologies or single author collections -- many of those poems included are available other places, in other magazines (both online and in print). Doesn't seem to hurt those books. In fact, it seems to help.

I understand magazines wanting work that hasn't appeared in other magazines, but when did editors start competing with the poets' ability to promote their own work? Why are we talking about exclusivity as if there's money involved? Or this mythical "one small audience" that apparently scours every single poem on Internet?

Don't put your poem out there yourself -- everybody will see it and they'll all know what you did, you easy poem-posting hussie.

Oh, I wouldn't touch a Reb Livingston poem. Everybody's had a round with that.

Oh how I wish it was that easy! I'd never need to submit poems to any magazine.


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Bringing the Sexy Back to Poetry

Got some good news this weekend. FIVE poems previously published in No Tell Motel and/or The Bedside Guide to No Tell Motel will be included in The Best American Erotic Poems: From 1800 to the Present (Scribner 2008) edited by David Lehman. So far I know at least three of the authors have been contacted (haven't heard from the other two), so I'll hold off on announcing the names and poems for the time being.

Of course Molly and I are thrilled that these poems will be reaching a wider audience.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

If anyone knows of a good (and fast) photographer in the DC area who does author photos, please backchannel. Thanks!


Forgive me for posting these a little later than usual. Somebody needed extra mommy time this morning.

Gwendolyn, Bill and Shanna Burlesque picts here.

And some more NEVER BEFORE SEEN snaps:

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Where I'll Be Tonight

with Shanna, Gwendolyn and William TAKING IT OFF!


Aaron Belz becomes

me at the beach -- so get your visual of him in the green bikini.


This Week at No Tell

MTC Cronin is in possession of a functioning improvised device this week at No Tell Motel.

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Sunday, June 24, 2007

Today's Reading

Rachel Zucker at the Poetry Foundation Blog.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Monday at Burlesque

Shanna Compton, Gwendolyn Joyce Mintz and William Allegrezza!


Friday, June 22, 2007

Gideon at 8 a.m. (before breakfast, still in pajamas) -- already prepared for the beach.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Rained all day and evening. Tonight we went on one of those casino cruises.

I was not the woman crying at the end -- but there was one of those.

Another losing night for me. Can't seem to catch a break on this vacation.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Tonight I lost at Yahtzee.

Tomorrow is my night, I just know it.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

At the beach this week. I have e-mail, but will won't be spending much time online.

Tonight I lost at both minature golf and Monopoly.

Monday, June 18, 2007

This Week at No Tell

Tracey Knapp's pulsing iris this week at No Tell Motel.

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Friday, June 15, 2007

Green Bikini

Headed to the beach soon. It occurred to me that I haven't purchased a new swimsuit since I was 3 months pregnant. In August 2004 I only gained a few pounds so I bought a suit one size bigger than normal. Well, I've been one size up ever since then and wore that suit summer of 2005 and 2006. The thought of wearing that suit for a FOURTH summer depressed me, even more than the thought of bathing suit shopping.

Oh, I'll get a tankini, I thought, that'll be OK. No, they were all loose in the waist -- most unflattering -- and my stomach is OK, two years of pilates! I don't need to hide my stomach.

A young sales associate helped me. A lot of the tops were very low cut. I cracked my standard, "I can't go around in that, I'm somebody's mother!" prompting her to bring out a suit by her mother's favorite designer. Sigh.

Her name was Brittany. Gideon had a HUGE crush on Brittany. They hung out the entire time. Oh you think your mother is embarassing, mine . . . Sigh, sigh, sigh.

After trying on 20+ suits it was decided: this is the summer of the green bikini.


So sad.


Thursday, June 14, 2007

Who Do I Gotta . . . To Get a Poem on a Non-Poetry Podcast?

As an undergrad I worked at the campus radio station, WRCT Pittsburgh 88.3 FM. Aside from calling myself DJ LolaCocaCola on my music show, I worked in Public Affairs, hosted and participated in talks shows, occasionally filled in for News. Senior year I was the Public Affairs director -- and had mini-struggles with Sam, the previous Public Affairs director, who once incited a mini-revolt among a handful of other public affairs hosts. They threw a party, didn't invite me and flipped through a photo album pointing at my pictures yelling "bitch" and "fucking slut." Well, maybe Sam didn't do that -- according to my sources/snitches he just laughed when others did it.

The things a woman in power has to deal with.

If I'm the Bill Clinton of Poetry, I was the Hillary Clinton of WRCT Public Affairs.

They also started a pool on my impending "break-up date" with Chris.

Hah-hah, suck on the true love, fuckers!

Anyhow, Sam didn't like how I ran the Public Affairs department. He didn't approve of my decisions. He would have done things totally differently if he was still in charge. He considered me a bossy violator of all things public affairs and freedom loving (my words, not his) and I considered him kind of a bureaucratic communist in libertarian clothing.

Despite all of that we remained good friends throughout the years. He was an usher in my wedding, I'd shop with him for clothing, I helped him move and in the process inhaled some African bug spores that are likely still mutating in my organs, he helped paint my house and almost died due to his cat allergies -- you know, all the things friends do for one another.

Although we avoid discussing what transpired back in 1993 cause it quickly bleeds into fisticuffs cause he won't admit he was totally wrong. Or as he'll say, I won't admit that I was totally wrong. (he's so wrong)

Sam recently resurrected one of his talk shows with Ivan, another former public affairs host, called Curmudgeon's Corner via podcast. Ivan wasn't available for the second recording so Sam asked if I wanted to do it. I said yes. In addition to being an occasional guest on CC, Sam and I also did a talk show called The World in an Eggshell and we got along well -- it wasn't the hot Sam/Ivan firework chemistry, but it was nice nonetheless.

But it didn't happen. Or what I should say, my partipation didn't happen, the podcast went on without me.

See, Sam and I were having problems agreeing on topics. Presidential debates (not watching them at this point, saw clips, glad I didn't bother), Paris Hilton (no thank you), etc.

Earlier Sam offered to read a poem of my choosing, which apparently (unbeknownst to me) was a joke. He also had a long list of requirements for the poem, most of which I was fine with (no swearing, less than 5 minutes, etc.), but he was insisting the poem be more than 100 years old. I wouldn't agree to that. That was a stupid requirement put in place solely to annoy me.

But what annoyed me more was he kept asking what I wanted to talk about and I'd say, I want to talk about these poems and he'd said he didn't want to do a whole poetry show and I said I didn't expect a whole poetry show, but why all the resistance to spending a couple minutes talking about some contemporary poetry? He eventually relented on the 100 year thing, but I still backed out.

As a bizzy mom, as a bizzy wife, as a bizzy editor, as a bizzy publisher, as a bizzy poet, I have limited time to spend on projects. Laurel Snyder is due any day (possibly already given birth to her second son) and on Saturday night while Sam and I were debating what kind of poem he would allow on his podcast, I hadn't even finished laying out her book. And I was still working on Hugh's too -- and I haven't started on Jill's yet -- and what about the next Bedside Guide, the still-unanswered NTM submissions . . .

. . . and what's the point of arguing with someone who's so adverse to contemporary poetry? What good is it to get bent out of shape? I felt like I was having one of those arguments with Gideon where I'm trying to give him a delicious treat and he doesn't want the delicious treat, yet I try to force that delicious treat on him because it's a delicious treat and I know he'd love it if only he'd try it, but he won't cause he's two years old and I'm not the boss of him. (Oh, but I am the boss of him -- I relent because eventually it occurs to me that his refusal merely means more delicious treat for me!)

So Sam and I both agreed that the point of doing the podcast was to have fun and neither of us were having any fun.

I don't think I'll be getting any more invitations to participate.

But Sam did end up reading one of the four poems I suggested as a "peace offering," PF Potvin's "4th Grade Logic" -- and he read it very well. If I did the show, I would have asked him why he picked that one, what he liked and didn't like about it because I'm interested in his reaction -- aside from the feeling of being put out by having to consider a poem.

Maybe his high school English teachers let him down, ruined poetry for him, or maybe he's just a hostile poetry element? I don't know, but I'm just too exhausted to push the matter further.

To top it all off, he ended up talking about topics I would have loved to discuss. (putting the clamp down on the kiddies -- hell yeah!)

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Carly (Lolita) is at every other day

discussing the steam sequence


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Seems if you don't blog or respond to e-mail for a few days everyone thinks you're suffering an existential crisis. Nope, just really busy. Working on the galleys for two upcoming NTB titles, The Myth of the Simple Machines by Laurel Snyder and Shy Green Field by Hugh Behm-Steinberg. Jill Alexander Essbaum's Harlot is next. Karl Parker's Personations is pushed back until the spring because we decided to expand it from chapbook length to "full" length . . . you know, bigger, longer and uncut. How hot is that?

Sandra gave me a "thinking blogger award" which is very nice and appreciated although I consider myself more of an empathic blogger, you know, I feel your pain. Kaplan Harris called me the Bill Clinton of poetry and Kaplan is a smart guy and knows what he's talking about. Oh and congratulate Sandra for winning the 2007 New Issues Poetry Prize. They'll publish her book Theories of Falling in Spring of 2008.

Now I'm going to attack the NTM submission pile -- yeah, and she wears army boots!

p.s. Charlie is smart too, dare I call him a "thinking blogger"?

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Monday, June 11, 2007

This Week at No Tell

Kate Schapira is dazed from the day and a half before that night this week at No Tell Motel.

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Sunday, June 10, 2007

Did Menendez is reviewing online magazines.

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Saturday, June 09, 2007

Mini-Interview at Bigmouth Indeed Strikes Again

Amy Guth asks me three questions.


Friday, June 08, 2007

Didn't Realize How HUGE We Were!

"To hit the best-seller list for verse, a book has to sell only around 30 copies."

Apparently every single No Tell Book title is a "best-seller" -- and that includes the one I considered having "shitty sales." Clearly I am much too hard on myself.

How can you sell 30 copies of your poetry book and get on the best-seller verse list?

For $99.99 I'll share with your my golden poetry selling secrets plus send you a FREE copy of the best-selling Wanton Textiles signed by best-selling poet, ME (a $10,000 value that you can take to eBay!).

What are you waiting for? Act Now!


I think yesterday Gideon experienced the most fun ever in his entire life. Hung out with his favorite people, saw his first riding-mower, ate lunch next to an indoor swimming pool, used his first vending machine, used his first pay-parking machine (he hit the "help" button, oops), rode on several elevators, ate two desserts (chocolate mousse cake & apple pie ala mode) after dinner -- and is currently spending his first night in a hotel. He couldn't sleep. I let him stay up until the ungodly hour of 10 p.m. watching cartoons hoping he'd fall asleep, he didn't. I turned off the light for an hour, he giggled the entire time -- way too excited to be here. Finally he fell asleep at 11:20 p.m.

It's going to be a rough day tomorrow with the dinosaurs.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Recent Praise for No Tell Book Titles

The Attention Lesson by PF Potvin

"These poems wake up slumbering compartments of the brain. The Attention Lesson is a sleek fleet of uncompromising, compact, urgent prose poems that feel like freshly chiseled, postmodern petroglyphs. Each piece is an immediate, thrumming, palm sized passion play: substantive and mysterious, awash in off rhymes and spanning the human-animal-object continuum. Images, states of consciousness, facts, descriptions and sense perceptions all morph into and through each other in emotionally useful ways that seem new and surprising yet also quite recognizable. How does PF Potvin do this? Dear Reader: when you figure out his secret, will you write and let me know?"

— Amy Gerstler

Navigate, Amelia Earhart's Letters Home by Rebecca Loudon

Available at Lulu for $9

". . .Loudon's poetic sensibilities, echoing the outrage and eroticism of Jorie Graham and Sylvia Plath at times, and the matter-of-factness of William Carlos Williams at others, navigate through the destabilizing mythos surrounding the historical Earhart. . . The tone of these Earhart poems is both wild and restrained, with a well-intoned formal disversity that mirros the becalmed panic edging each poem. What we are treated to in this this small, provocative book is a vision of loss and forgetfullness almost too close to bear, making it easy to marvel at Loudon's poetic range, her prescience and daring in the face of such cataclysm."

— Derek Pollard, American Book Review (March/April 2007)

"The pleasure in reading this book is putting all the little pieces together so that we can examine the whole and in constructing a story for these characters and these thoughts that make sense, given the little we know about the speaker."

— Laurel Snyder, Atlanta Style & Design, (Spring 2007)

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Not Dead

Out of town.

Here are some more pics from NYC two weekends ago.

Monday, June 04, 2007

The Small Anything City

I wish I had more time to write book reviews, but I'm lucky to get a chance to read many books these days. So what I'll do from time to time is post some lines from work I'm currently reading and admire.

from "Solveig Asskildt" in The Small Anything City (Dream Horse Press) by Cynthia Arrieu-King:

No one said till later as he dabbed his eyes, breaking down afresh at the thought of that young night, so lost in a black water used for naught, and her tender hand through a wave. The shot widened out and there she was: Solveig, his then fiancee, now eighty, face craggy, eyes crushed sapphire looking out the window at ice. Her old man sobbed. She wished he would stop crying.



Someone kindly pointed out that my abbreviation (NTM) for No Tell Motel means "Fuck Your Mother" in French and there's a French hip hop group named Suprême NTM that totally has issues with authority.

Gawd, we should totally collaborate!

(Dear Random Googler looking for twisted incest action, go away -- there's been a terrible mistake.)


This Week at No Tell

Michael Koshkin
                       could     judge
            the strange
this week at No Tell Motel.

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Friday, June 01, 2007

The only time I ever suffer from the penis envy is when I'm in the woods looking for a place to pee.

But it always works out. I'm resourceful like that.


And the "debate" over blog-posted poems published or not? continues at Very Like a Whale.

Here I responded to John Wang's (editor of Juked) comments.


Enjoying Kenneth Goldsmith's posts at Harriet:

"Ours is an economy based on plentitude and abundance; the more copies of our work there are out there and the more readily available they are, the greater the impact our works will have. This is in contrast to economic forms based on scarcity: diamonds, paintings, fine watches."

"And the punchline... not a single person in Scandinavia had ever seen a book of mine. All they knew of me was from what I posted on the web. With my books in runs from tiny houses, never totaling over 1000 copies, it cost them more to ship from SPD than the price of the book. Again, friends, if it doesn't exist on the internet, it doesn't exist."


This Week's Incidents

Gideon finally confirmed what we suspected for a long time. He indeed knows how to use eating utensils and been doing so for months at daycare.


Big argument in local coffee shop. Thought I was being the nice mom by buying a push-up sherbert treat. Never considered how much the push-up stick looks like a straw. Gideon kept holding it upside down and trying to drink from it, while sherbert dripped all over. I kept showing him the sherbert, licking it, trying to get the sherbert close to this mouth, flipping the push-up right side up -- firmly establishing my assholey mommy position. The dispute only resolved itself once I gave him my iced tea and ate the damn Scooby Do Rainbow Push-Up myself.


Did not score free tickets to tonight's Dave Attell HBO special taping. Chris' fantasies of "bum rushing" the stage are dashed.

But we still have a sitter for the evening . . . (happy dance)


Highlights from POETRY NEWS: June 2007
for full listings, please see:

The Cultural Development Corporation is now taking applications for artist housing in a former warehouse in the Woodridge neighborhood of NE DC. Forty affordable live/work housing units will be available to artists and their families with a move-in date of 2009. Applications accepted on a first-come first-served basis beginning June 4. For eligibility requirements and an application, see: