Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Mike Snider reviews Jill Alexander Essbaum's Harlot

Facebook isn't all bad, just mostly. For instance this past weekend Mary Beth from St. Agnes Lane tracked me down. I always wondered what happened to Mary Beth. I reconnected with other people that I'm glad to have. That's nice. As this current writing I have 534 friends on Facebook. In some form I know around half of them (personally, via correspondence or by their work). The other half could be anything, a maple tree with an internet connection, really I don't have a clue. Most of my "friends" on Facebook are poets. Or people who refer to themselves as poets. It's nice to be connected in some very loose way with a bunch of poets. Sometimes. Other times it's really annoying when the same few people/publications jams up my inbox with constant announcements and promotional material. Yes, it's annoying constantly being invited to events 1000 miles away -- although Facebook doesn't have any easy way to just invite local folks. The paid targeted advertising is downright offensive -- apparently as a 30-something woman I am consumed with one thing and one thing only: LOSING WEIGHT. It doesn't matter how many times I click the thumbs down on the diet ads, they keep coming up insisting I can be 3 dress sizes smaller and be just like Oprah, or a super model or some guy named Dr. Oz. who I've never heard of but I suspect these advertisers are banking that I do. I must because I am 35 years old and MUST LOSE WEIGHT.

What annoys me most is that people try to conduct business with me via Facebook. Facebook is a SOCIAL networking site. A silly wassup, cool. Wanna send me a virtual petunia, splendid, thank you very much, together we will SAVE the fucking Earth, god bless our little hearts. But don't send action items, requests or anything else that needs my attention -- send those things to to my e-mail account, like a human being for Christ's sake. I delete many of my Facebook messages, Facebook messages are JUNK MAIL. Even if I don't delete a message, it's likely not going to be acted on because it's not in my to-do folder -- and to make the overflowing to-do folder, I need a real e-mail sent to my real e-mail account. Honestly, if you don't make the time to send me a complete e-mail I'm not going to make time for your request. We're all busy people here, that's not an excuse.

Correspondence has gotten way too casual these days -- for instance, I was recently contacted via the live CHAT feature on Facebook from someone asking if I was a poet. I said, yes, in fact I was a poet (first mistake, I usually ignore all AIM messages from people I do not know). He said he wanted to translate my poems. Just like that, no more information offered -- I even had to inquire into what language he intended on translating them into. It was obvious on the get-go that he wasn't at all familiar with my work even though many of my poems are published online. He said he thought it was important to translate British and American poems because they were so vibrant. I told him I was busy at the moment, sent him my URL so he could peruse my poems and suggested he e-mail me if he was still interested. For the next two days, every time I logged onto Facebook he AIMed me about sending him poems. He asked me what I did for a living, he asked what my husband did for a living and then explained it was his culture to ask about people's families. I didn't share much except what was public knowledge and already in my profile -- I edit a magazine and press. He then asked if my press would publish his chapbook (again, just like that -- not, would you like to *read* my chapbook, but will you, Facebook Friend, publish my chapbook because I asked?) I told him no, but I would send him some poems to translate.

I thought hey if someone wants to translate my work, why am I being so obstructionist? Maybe there is some cultural failing and I'm being too critical and expecting him to know things that are outside his realm. I e-mailed him a PDF of my book. The next day he asked if I could send him physical books because he translates on trains. He also wanted me to print out some of my interviews, include some photographs and a permission form -- and to please send it all as soon as possible.

My skepticism changed to alarm bells. A permission form -- to give permission for what? Is there already a project that this is intended for and if so why haven't I been told about it? What poem(s) was he interested in? What is this big rush? And again, why would anyone offer to translate poems he has never read by a poet he is completely unfamiliar with? Was there no standard for what was being translated? I wrote back and told him I had misgivings and a number of questions that needed clearing. Also, mailing all of this stuff is going to cost at least $30 in postage and considering all my money is tied up in shrunken heads at the moment. We'll see what he responds, but . . .

I have no idea if I'm being over critical or duped. His offer was akin to sending a stranger a post-it note. How am I to take that seriously? Is this just somebody who doesn't know how to use electronic communication properly? A quack? If my poems had some kind of monetary value, I'd be better able to sniff out a nefarious intent. I googled him and found a few references in poets' (who I am unfamiliar with) bios who mention his translating their work, but no samples of the translations. I found a handful of references to the press in his signature file, but again -- I'm searching in English and have no real way of knowing. Frankly I can't conceive of sending books at this point and am very put off with how I was approached.

Above is an extreme case, but there have been several lesser cases of my being completely turned off by how somebody conducted himself in communication. Electronic communication does not have to be this way. It can be professional with just a little effort. I don't need fancy letterhead, a powerpoint slideshow or a fancy graph, but I need an e-mail with relevant information conveyed in a clear manner. I'm officially setting my standards and if I miss out on something really great, well, so be it. I need clarity in life.

Audio Issue of Beltway Poetry Quarterly

Beltway Poetry's first all-audio issue, co-edited by Kim Roberts and Katie Davis, is now available online. The issue includes collaborations between poets and musicians, recordings produced over layers of sound, and "naked" tracks of poets with distinctive voices that lend themselves particularly well to the audio format.

As Katie Davis says in her recorded introduction, these twenty recordings make a "Beltway Poetry Remix" notable for the "pauses, the way a vowel is pulled and repeated, demanding to be reconsidered."

Contributors, Volume 9, Number 4 (Fall 2008):

Karren L. Alenier * Holly Bass * Regie Cabico * Kenneth Carroll * Joel Dias-Porter * Thomas Sayers Ellis * Brian Gilmore * Michael Gushue * Bernie Jankowski * Rod Jellema * Fred Joiner * Reb Livingston * Greg McBride * May Miller * Miles David Moore * Yvette Neisser Moreno * Gaston Neal * Richard Peabody * Mark Tarallo * Hilary Tham

Audio production provided by Alison Gilbert, Grace Cavalieri, Flawn Williams, and others.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Don't Worry

My fortune cookie today said this:

A way out of a financial mess is discovered as if by magic!

For real, yo! Everything is going to be fine. Relax.

Here are the "lucky numbers" from the back of the fortune: 41, 11, 55, 17, 39, 34

I'm investing all the money I have left in lottery tickets and shrunken heads. You should too.

(page 12)
by David Alpaugh

With no direct commitment to the poetry it should not surprise us to learn that contest publishers are minimalists when it comes to marketing their winners. Whereas a traditional publisher must sell hundreds of books to remain solvent, and must therefore take potential readership into account when selecting manuscripts, the contest publisher need not be concerned with readers at all. Having met his expenses in advance, and in some cases even turned a profit, he need not sell a single copy of the prizewinning book. The first edition was, in fact, sold-out before it was a tear or twinkle in the judge’s eye to readers who bought it blind, knowing neither title nor author.

Cadaver Dogs by Rebecca Loudon Available at Lulu

Cover Art: Scott Odom
Cover Design: Maureen Thorson

Available for purchase at Lulu NOW $15
Available at retail outlets in November.

What People are Saying about Cadaver Dogs:

The images in this book vibrate. “Mars hangs above you like a meat chime.” “An ovary red dress.” “Let me release the thin broth tadpole-/sticky lake from between my legs.” Cadaver Dogs gives us a fast and furious poetry of “linguistic impulse” (poet Denise Levertov’s term) fused with a poetry of visceral impulse, and rushes of hyped up innuendo. Multiple sensory cataracts pour forth on every page. Whether their mode is pensive, elegiac, sexual or all of the above, these poems embrace the undomesticated, taking as a given the fact that humans are perpetually channeling the various animals we contain. Want vividness and gusto, postmodern sensitivity, lingual rapture? Consume this book, or let it consume you.

— Amy Gerstler

This collection is a hungry jukebox full of alluring, bittersweet music. Beginning with Loudon’s dedication page, where pets' names act like rabbit holes for a world of poems whose speakers are ripe with desire to be both animal and human, her lines lure us into a radiant, devastating place burning with color and sound, blood and bees—yet she does so with a kind of frightening grace few poets possess.

— Jared Leising, author of The Widows and Orphans of Winesburg, Ohio

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This Week at No Tell

Jessy Randall talks too much and ruins everything this week at No Tell Motel.

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Hmm, I was just reminded by a long lost childhood friend on Facebook that once upon a time, E.T. was important to my thinking.

Well now, I will be looking forward to reading this when it comes out. Yay, a review!

What Tom Beckett fails to mention, is that his gender tip-off likely had something to do the free Massengill sample that comes with each copy of Your Ten Favorite Words. It's how the poems stay so very fresh.

Memento From Chicago & Thieving Poet Blog

This is why I don't sleep in the same room with poets. I wake up in the morning with a giant bruise and nobody has any idea how it got there. I wish I could say I was drunk, but I wasn't. Just a warning for those of you considering sharing a hotel room with Jill Essbaum. She seems really nice and sweet . . .

Speaking of injured poets who likely deserve it, Rauan Klassnik has a blog now.

He asked me what I thought of it and I told him it sucked big floppy donkey dick.

Why would I say such a thing?

Because I'm jealous that his twisted, demented book gets more attention than my fucked-up, weird book.

I'm pissy like that. Probably why poets beat me in my sleep.

Speaking of what goes through poets' minds in the dark hours, sometimes Rauan e-mails his dreams and asks what I think. When I tell him, he scoffs.

One time I dreamed that Rauan stole thousands of dollars out of a Target cash register. He offered to share, but I wasn't interested in becoming his accomplice. I ran into a casino for refuge.

It's just not safe being around the poets.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

It's a Tight Race . . . In My Dreams

Times I dreamed of 2008 presidential candidates so far this year:

Barack Obama: 4
John McCain: 4
Sarah Palin: 1
Hillary Clinton: 1
Joe Biden: 0

The first dream I had of Obama also involved Hillary Clinton. This was back in May. While sledding near the border of Ireland and talking about the Pennsylvania primary, a poet friend (who often stands for a 'feeling' animus figure) asked me if I was for Hillary or Obama. I can't remember if I said that I'd be happy "with both" or "either." It is unfortunate that I don't remember, because that's a very important distinction. This was a dream about gender.

My second Obama dream was in August. I was at a grocery store buying bread, milk and cheese for Howard Stern (my inner asshole?). The constituents in this store complained Obama hadn't made the effort to woo them. He was still listed as the "vegetarian Democrat" and needed to do more campaigning. Following my associations that Obama is the candidate for "change" perhaps this symbolizes parts of myself that can't see the value in changes I'm making in my own life. Part of myself still needed to be convinced. Vegetarian=no meat, substance?

The third Obama dream was just a few days ago. Chris (my logos animus figure) was presented as the "Huge Candidate" and I had no idea where Obama stood. I'm still thinking on that one -- this logos energy has been causing me quite a bit of strife (this ultra critical, masculine part of myself, not the husband). Maybe "huge candidate" implies still a big deal? Maybe it's an obstacle to "change." Being excessively critical is a hinderance?

Last night I dreamed that I was an undercover police officer (secret authority?) sitting very closely to Obama while we read from the same magazine. It was an open display of nuzzling in front of John McCain who was also in the room. This dream gave me the sense that I made my choice and was being open about it. What choice? Well, I'm not gonna get into that here. Let's just say I'm glad the dream didn't show me nuzzling McCain, OK?

Speaking of McCain. I first dreamed of him in July. He was wearing a paper hat that said "John McCain" and took his pro-choice friend's nail clippers. I asked him if he was stealing from his friends. His response "Friends?!? More like masters!" I associate nail clippers with grooming and appearance and McCain with an antiquated, out-of-touchness, prone to fits of anger. So this stodgy, stubborn part of myself that is clearly resentful is trying to work on its outer appearance by taking something from a more permissive part of myself.

In September I dreamed that Chris and I were the running mates of McCain and Sarah Palin and on our way to Pittsburgh to campaign. Palin called my cell phone. I told her that we arrived and told voters that if we don't win, we're moving to Canada. Palin was silent and annoyed, she didn't get the joke. Then there's was a celebration. John Kerry selected a woman running mate and now he finally had a chance to win the election. If McCain is a stubborn, out-dated, masculine part of myself, Palin would likely stand for an unqualified, not developed, stunted, not ready feminine part of myself. Telling voters that we'll move to to Canada if we don't win is reactionary, immature and not an effective strategy--Palin doesn't get that. Perhaps Kerry stands for a failed masculine part of myself -- but the good news is that now that he selected a female running male, two opposite joining to create a whole, they have a chance to "win" together. This seems to be a dream about balance.

A couple days after that I dreamed I was in the car with John McCain and a bunch of other government types on our way to Iraq. I often dream I'm being sent to Iraq and I'm always depressed at this predicament. We got into a car accident and the women changed into men and everyone argued needlessly, telling each other how important they were and oh were they gonna be sorry. All while I sat in the back seat and sulked. This dream shows more internal conflict and clearly I'm tired of it. My dream ego is in the back seat, clearly not "driving" the situation, but being driven by it. McCain is in the front passenger seat. The death seat? Iraq clearly stands for a place where I don't want to go -- whether or not I need to go there, well I'm not sure. Is (dream) Iraq my duty to my country (myself)? Or the wrong place at the wrong time for the wrong reasons? I'm leaning towards the latter. But I'm not sure, maybe it's a place I need to go nurse the wounded?

Since these are my dreams, it's my associations that matter. They speak to things going on in my own life. My psyche assigned them to represent different aspects of myself, symbols that communicate directly to me. I anticipate I'll have many more dreams of presidential candidates throughout the year -- there's a lot of fertile symbolism and meaning to draw from this current race.

Your dreams of presidential candidates, current events, etc., will quite likely mean something very different. Use your own associations and apply them to your own circumstances. You might be surprised.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Just to be clear, we're reading at the FIXX Coffee House today NOT the Book Cellar. I know there's been a lot of advertising to the contrary -- but we're gonna be at the FIXX Coffee House.

Fixx Reading Series
3053 N. Sheffield Ave.
Chicago, IL

7:30 PM

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Blogging from Chicago O'hare airport while I wait for Ms. Essbaum's plane to arrive.

We are scheduled to read tomorrow at the Fixx Reading Series.

But I think instead I'll suspend all poetrying, pull all my poems and delay the reading with Jill so I can fly back to DC to help Washington fix the financial mess.

Jill better not pull that "we need poems now more than ever" crap.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Curmudgeon's Corner

My friends Sam & Ivan revived their college radio show and now do a weekly podcast focusing on current events, politics, nerd news, etc. Hey, it's a preferable mid-life crisis than abandoning your family and buying a sports car!

This week hey included a promo for No Tell Motel (around the 14 minute mark).

For that reason alone, you should listen.

Or maybe you'd enjoy listening if you're interested in these topics:

* Financial Meltdown
* Pakistan Bombing
* iPhone Rumors
* Election Roundup

Also, I should note the photo they use for their podcast doesn't show the whole picture!

I will not be cropped out!

Monday, September 22, 2008

World's Best Mom Publisher

One more notch in my winningest belt, along with Otoliths Books, No Tell Books is the recipient of the GALATEA PUBLISHER AWARD.

Besides even more hot poet groupie sex, what does this mean?

It means that reviewers of the next Galatea Resurrects will be able to select books from the No Tell and Otolith catalogs as "payment." Eileen Tabios, the publisher who'd be receiving this award if she wasn't the one giving it, will PURCHASE the requested books from our catalogs. Very generous.

Now that's an award that means something!

In addition to free review copies, you'll also get your choice of additional books.

What's keeping you from reviewing something?

If I may be so bold to make a recommendation. Eileen has copies and so do I. Just ask.

Honestly the work retreat concept isn't a bad idea.

This is good news for Elisa. Sounds like a stubborn (Reb Livngston) part of her psyche is learning how to work with other parts. Although not all the other parts approve of her choices. This is to be expected.

This Week at No Tell

Samuel Wharton sells your likeness for a quick poll on usefulness this week at No Tell Motel.

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Why Do I Feel Lucky

Ya know, I rode bus #13 to school everyday in 5th and 6th grade.

One time a cop ticketed the driver for going through a red light. We all yelled No no, it was yellow! but our voices were ignored.

13. It's a powerful and frightening number.

That's why I'm the Anti- Featured Poet #13

Most poets can't handle a number like that.

I can.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

No Tell Books Reading in SF

Hugh Behm-Steinberg and Jill Alexander Essbaum
Tuesday, 23 September
7:30 at Books and Bookshelves (99 Sanchez at 14th Street, Castro district, San Francisco)


No Tell Nominations

Every year No Tell Motel nominates poems for "best of" anthologies as a way to bring further attention to the poems and poets it publishes. It's another way to acknowledge the work in addition to the original publication. As far as I'm concerned, if by doing so introduces the poem, poet or magazine to just a few new readers, it's all worth it.

NTM's Best of the Net 2008 Nominations (Sundress)

"Bupleurum Wandering Chamber" by Anna Maria Hong

"[ directions to my house ]" by Brent Goodman

"Poem in Which I Sort of Break Down" by Clay Matthews

"pink-think (a primer for girls of other colors)" by Evie Shockley

"That Morning" by Rauan Klassnik

"Saw This & Marked It" by Mia Nussbaum

NTM's Best of the Web 2009 Nominations (DZANC Books)

"Alys: Architect, Prodigal and Witch." by Paula Mendoza-Hanna

"Jack’s Physical" by Scott Glassman

"Immigration Quotas" by Marcela Sulak


Friday, September 19, 2008

Yesterday I was the little social butterfly.

I met for lunch with a poet friend who's back in the States for a couple weeks from Cairo. She gave me something to ward off the "evil eye" and I was all what, no scarab?

Then I met for drinks with another poet friend visiting from Minnesota. We were walking down the street and I saw a local poet acquaintance I met 3-4 times. Feeling like a hot shot I was all 'Sup, poet acquaintance I met 3-4 times. But he didn't seem to know who I the hell I was. I am always amazed when people don't remember me. I am incredibly good looking. How could anyone not remember? One time up at Bennington there was a woman who'd introduce herself at every residency, by the third residency I said, Look bitch, you need to write yourself a note or something, because we're waaaaayyy beyond the 'Hi, my name is _______ stage.'

Anyhow, my Minnesota poet friend and I were joined for dinner with a bunch of international journalists and I was like What a coincidence, I'm an international poet! I can see a soccer field from my house.

Also, I learned how to say "asshole" in Hindi. That is really going to come in handy.

Today, my voice is completely gone. I can barely whisper. This happens from time to time. Sometimes God says Ok, I think that's enough for a while.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Fixx Reading Series

September 25th @ 7:30pm

Allison Amend

Jill Alexander Essbaum

Reb Livingston

Fixx Reading Series
3053 N. Sheffield Ave.
Chicago, IL

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Because I want to do certain things now and not put them off until my mid-40's when Gideon is older and doesn't need as much of my attention, I have work in a (sometimes hyper) direct and concise fashion. I have to make snatches of time as "productive" as possible. Often I stay up late and work with a little less sleep. This means "work" e-mails can be short and to the point. This means I can sometimes get tunneled into "business" and brush off someone's need to be assured or comforted. This means sometimes I come off as curt. This means I get right down to the nitty. I'm not saying that's a good thing and I try not to be insensitive, but sometimes it happens. I must admit, I get weary of having to tend to everyone else's feelings and needs and quirks and complexes and egos. I have feelings, needs, quirks, complexes and an ego too.

I start to get very tired and worn. I decide I'm going to quit everything and solely focus on Gideon and killer abs. Then I remember that I don't want to become the bitter 50 year old woman in the back row listening to my male peer talk about how you "just have to work" if you want to accomplish something, him seemingly forgetting how someone else took care of his children and home and basically his entire fucking life so he could "just work." I don't want to be that angry woman in the back row yelling at the moderately famous novelist that he never cleaned his house. Seriously, I recently witnessed that. Apparently I was the only person who understood where she was coming from -- everyone else chalked her to up to crazy bitch. Not me. I knew her. Well, I never laid eyes on her until that moment, but I KNEW her story (and later confirmed my knowingness). I know why the gnarled woman scoffs. It was easy to see. I explained it to a few of my male peers. They admitted to never thinking of it in those terms cause they don't have to think of it that way. That's why they're all at risk of becoming moderately famous writers exclaiming that people should throw Fritos on their floors before getting down to writing.

This is why I don't quit. This is why my belly is soft and Gideon plays with a flame thrower.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Grubby Hands Update

My Zorba by Danielle Pafunda (Bloof Books)

Irresponsibility by Chris Vitiello (Ahsahta Press)

American Spikenard by Sarah Vap (University of Iowa Press)
Dummy Fire by Sarah Vap (Saturnalia)

Rarer and More Wonderful by Trevor Calvert (Scrambler Books)

Necropolis by Jill Alexander Essbaum (neoNUMA Arts)

Kyotologic by Anne Gorrick (Shearsman)

When You Bit... by Adam Fieled (Otoliths)

Love, Like Pronouns by Rosmarie Waldrop (Omnidawn Publishing)

The Window Facing Winter by Gerry LaFemina (New Issues)

Stratification by Meghan Punschke (BlazeVOX)
Imposture Notebook by Lance Phillips(BlazeVOX)
American Field Couches by Bill Freind (BlazeVOX)
Musee Mechanique by Rodney Koeneke (BlazeVOX)
The Ecstasy of Capitulation by Daniel Borzutzky (BlazeVOX)
Field of Wanting: Poems of Desire by Wanda Phipps (BlazeVOX)
Walking Dreams: Selected Early Tales by Mark Wallace (BlazeVOX)
The Blind Chatelaine's Keys: Her Biography Through Your Poetics by Eileen R. Tabios (BlazeVOX)

Not So Fast Robespierre by Geoffrey Gatza (Menendez Publishing)

The Name Encanyoned River: Selected Poems 1960-1985 by Clayton Eshleman (Black Sparrow)

Borrowed Love Poems by John Yau (Penquin)

Ainu Dreams by George Quasha (Station Hill Press)

After the Poison by Collin Kelley (Finishing Line Press)

Uncle's South China Sea Blue Nightmare by Lamont B. Steptoe (Plan B Press)

Trouble and Honey by Jilly Dybka

Riverine: An Anthology of Hudson Valley Writers by Laurence Carr (Codhill Press)

First Light: Mother and Son Poems: A Twentieth-Century American Selection by Jason Shinder (Harvest Books)

Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia, and Beyond by Nathalie Handal, Tina Chang (Norton)

Mantis: A Journal of Poetry, Criticism & Translation Issue 7

If you want to know more about what I'm currently reading and my impressions, I'm on Goodreads.


Poetry Is To Money As Ice Cream Is To Mud

Gideon and I spent lunch arguing over whether or not the third letter in his name is a B or a D. See, before preschool, life was all uppercase and simple. But now the lowercase box is opened reaping all kinds of confusion. I forgot how close 'b' and 'd' look. Anyhow, Gideon insisted the third letter of his name is a B and I, the educated mom, tried to show him the difference between 'b' and 'd' and sounded it out phonetically. GiD-DA-DA-DA-DA . . . like DOG, can you hear that? Common sense and logic held no sway. So we decided to let Daddy settle this later tonight.

Can't wait to do the in your face! dance.

I have an MFA. Don't fuck with me.

Monday, September 15, 2008

News Flash

I'm not that powerful. You all can go back to shitting yourself over economic collapse and swing states. The assholey winningest lady poet can't make blogs disappear.

Aw Man

So I created a blog to discuss and highlight poems, poets, books and things related to No Tell Motel and No Tell Books. It's empty now, but is going to be one of the projects for intern Kurt. I wanted notell.blogspot.com, but it was taken by these jackasses. A perfectly good URL wasted on one lame post showing men who look a bit too old to be so excited about alcohol and phallus cigars. Maybe I can use my connections at Google and make it all disappear. Am I that powerful? Let's see.

This Week at No Tell

Becca Klaver is like a doily atop a vanity this week at No Tell Motel.

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Sunday, September 14, 2008

When I was in the early stages of planning No Tell Books, I attended a panel given by Grove/Atlantic publisher Morgan Entrekin and some of its authors. Grove/Atlantic publishes contemporary poets like Kay Ryan, Mary Oliver, Harold Pinter, Claudia Rankine, Mary Jo Bang, Bruce Weigl and keeps in print books by e.e. cummings and Frank O'hara.

Entrekin said quite a few things that struck me. First, he said all their contemporary poetry books lose money and are subsidized by the sales of the non-poetry books. He said average sales are around 800 copies per poetry title. Those are books by well known, well-reviewed, award winning poets. These are books often stocked in bookstores.

I asked him what advice he had for someone starting a poetry-only press. He laughed. He said he didn't recommend it. Then he said that if I was serious to do everything and anything to keep the cost down so I wouldn't lose too much money. Then he reiterated that I probably shouldn't do it. I asked him what he thought about POD. He said that was probably a smart way to go.

He also stressed the importance of the relationship between authors and publishers. He talked about building backlists.

It was probably the most helpful publishing panel I ever sat in on. I took much of what Entrekin said to heart. Some of what he said I decided only applied to an old world publishing model that I didn't expect to participate in. I do keep my costs low so if a title sells between 200-300 copies, the press breaks even. If a book sold 800 copies -- that would be a poetry jackpot and many other titles could be subsidized by that as well as the author getting a sizable percentage of the profit.


Friday, September 12, 2008

How I Started My Online Poetry Magazine and Made All My Editor Dreams Come True

I meant to write about this last week, but it's been busy. Gideon starting school, nearing completion of Rebecca Loudon's Cadaver Dogs, new laptop issues, planning for the intern, No Tell galleys -- you know, life stuff. That's something to be noted, often when you start these projects they generate recurring work and responsibilities that can go on into infinity.

For instance, a month after I first launched No Tell Motel, my dad asked what was new in my life and I excitedly started explaining all the things I was doing for the magazine. He cut me off and said, you already put out that website, like that was done and over with. Granted he's not a poet or an editor and there's no reason to expect him to know about such things, but I was a bit surprised that he didn't realize that publishing a magazine would be a daily endeavor. Consider my surprise later on when I realized that many poets haven't the slightest concept of the work that goes into publishing a magazine on a regular basis, let alone on a daily one. All of these projects I wrote about over the past few weeks take a considerable amount of work and if you take on more than you can manage, it can be a recipe for grief and stress. I have often whipped up that recipe and hence you see me in a position that until very recently I swore I'd never be in -- training an intern.

As an example, last summer a No Tell poet wrote and asked that I blurb his chapbook. He assumed that two weeks was plenty of time since I knew his work quite well. Well, I remembered the five poems published in No Tell, knew none of his other work, and was strained in a very bad way trying to publish three collections and an anthology by the fall, while keeping up with No Tell, proofing my own book that was being released that fall, scheduling a reading tour, running my own reading series and also raising my son, managing my household . . . if I was ever close to shooting up a post office, last summer would have been the time. I wrote back saying sorry, but I need 2-3 months to blurb a book and my schedule was overpacked. He responded to that by saying it would only take a couple hours. I didn't respond to that. I gave him my answer and if I started explaining how every hour was sacred and spoken for, I'd get really pissed and probably go off.

That's a bad place to be in and I don't recommend it for anyone. The last way you want to feel is that other poets aren't viewing you as a fellow poet, but as a work horse existing to take care of their needs. One must balance her contributions to the community with attention to her own work and life. The way it plays out is that the majority of poets give very little to the community and to make up for that, a handful of poets sometimes overcompensate by taking on a thousand things -- at their own peril. Or other times, poets have great ideas but no concept of how to finish projects. It takes planning and thought.

Five years ago was a very different time for me. I was almost 30, recently MFAed, married and childfree. I wrote poems, reviewed books and literary journals at NewPages and ran a small jewelry design business that actually made some money. I was restless and often felt hopeless. I noticed magazines like Octopus and Unpleasant Event Schedule started by poets my own age, some younger. My impression: who are these punks and who the hell are they to start a magazine? To be perfectly honest, while I admired (and frankly was rather jealous) of these young punks' magazines, I considered myself way more creative and was quite sure I could do a better job, if only I had the chance. My mind hadn't fully clicked that nobody gave these punks their opportunities, these punks created them for themselves. Fucking punks.

In April 2004 I got knocked-up. Sure, Chris and I planned it that way, but when it became a reality instead of just some concept we frequently discussed, everything changed. When I looked at that peestick and realized it was positive, the first thing I thought was Oh shit, I'm pregnant, I don't have a book, I haven't been published enough, nobody knows my work, now I'm doomed to being some lame mom. It's all over. Ok, that's a demented way to look at a planned pregnancy. It also was an extremely ignorant and misinformed view of what a mother can do in our current day. But it was what it was. My dumbass fear that I'd become some lame, boring mom was my motivation to start No Tell Motel. If you read the About page, it's pretty obvious. I recently re-read the first paragraph and was appalled. Maybe I'll have the intern rewrite it.

I must have been bursting with creation because I finally decided to start a magazine, but was too afraid to do it alone. A couple years before I almost started one with two male poet friends, but it became obvious they just wanted me because I knew how to do online stuff (and they didn't). They were going to make all the decisions and I was gonna do the work. That wasn't cool with me. Frankly, I'm kinda sensitive to that shit. It's why I like to do stuff alone -- that and cause everybody else does it wrong. So I knew for this to work, my co-editor had to be a woman. I wanted someone who was fierce, honest and smart. That was Molly Arden. Our tastes and style differ quite a bit. I was good with that. I didn't want a clone of myself, I wanted someone who I could work well with. When I came up with the name Skull Flicker, she told me that was totally stupid and thank God for that. When I said I wanted to publish on a daily basis, she said that sounded impossible which put me in the position to have to make a case to why that was possible. When a poet I solicited sent work that Molly absolutely detested, I had to make a case for the poems. Having to make all these cases was invaluable. It made me really think through every decision, every move.

Discussing the more technical aspects with Chris was also important. He stressed the importance of content management. I wasn't interested in content management, it sounded boring. I wanted to think about the fun stuff. Well, guess what, content management is really fucking important and if you don't have a plan for how you're going to manage all the content you're going to publish and if you publish any significant amount of stuff, it's gonna be a big mess. I wrote some last year about technical aspects of publishing an online magazine.

I worked all summer on launching the magazine. I had my college roommate do the design and set-up the content management using (blogging) software recommended by another friend. Molly and I approached poets we admired to send work. Many were quite generous and supportive. Some claimed not to have any work available, which I took to mean they didn't want to waste it on an unknown online magazine. One poet jerked Molly around for weeks, insisted she call him on the phone and send pictures of herself. Finally he got the message that she wasn't playing hard to get when she sent him a picture of herself with her newborn, several moments after giving birth. That's when he admitted he never intended on sending us work cause online magazines weren't "his bag." What the fuck ever, just because we're gorgeous doesn't mean we have a bunch of time to fucking waste dealing with that nonsense. NEWS FLASH: We're not flattered by obnoxious and inappropriate attention.

With six weeks of poems scheduled, we launched the magazine and held an open submission call that went through the rest of the year. The first year we accepted around 7-8% of the unsolicited work received, now we accept around 3-5%. I solicit work from about 5-7 poets a year. I don't take all the work by these poets. Sometimes they send work I don't love. It's the nature of editing a magazine. An invitation to send work is simply that, an invitation, not a guarantee or a promise. The rest of the poems published at No Tell are from the slush pile. From the pool of accepted work, I invite a couple poets to send manuscripts for consideration at No Tell Books.

Five years ago I started an online magazine and added an anthology, then a micropress and co-curated a reading series and wrote a monthly poetry column all while raising a small child, often on my own because my husband travels a great deal for work. That's too much for any one person to do, or at least do well. I had to prioritize. I don't do the reading series or the poetry column any more. The magazine has shorter reading periods and the press went from publishing 5 books a year to 2. I'm considerably happier now. My plans with the intern is not so I can do more work, but to better do the work I'm still doing. To give myself more time on my own poems.

I wrote this series of "making our dreams come true" posts for the following reasons:

1. To point out that nobody has to be victim to a completely screwed-up, terrible-for-poetry publishing system. It is possible to circumvent much of it, even if one is working in academia.

2. To point out that to fix this system, more poets need to actively contribute and support it. This means buying books and magazines, reviewing books and magazines, asking local libraries to order poetry books and magazines, providing venues to support other poets and their work such as reading series, magazines, presses, etc. Offering your home and a meal to traveling poets. Thinking of new ways to help promote and support other poets.

3. For more poets to appreciate (and not take advantage of) the efforts of poets who are already contributing to the community.

I hope my attempts were successful.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Wanton Textiles Review

Adam Fieled writes about Wanton Textiles:

. . . where the book locates its center, and its excellence: in the pleasures of language. In this context, it is clear that another, more visceral pleasure is being deferred. However, what is sublimated into these exchanges is a fertile concentration of affect, presence, and image. What is felt between the two characters is made palpable in words. These two poets are "giving language to each other", making a body of words stand in for their actual bodies. Through their affect, presence, and images, the two complementary "bodies" touch, embrace, and interpenetrate. Their pleasure in literary interpenetration becomes our pleasure. Their victory in words conduces to our pleasure in them. Between the reader and the two poets, a kind of triangular structure is created. The poets want to be read and we want to read them: it is a circuit of pleasure and fulfillment, that may in fact be deeper and richer than what a mere physical consummation could offer.


Monday, September 08, 2008

Editor Interviews

Along with other literary magazine editors, I'm interviewed at Roses and Thorns. The interview is broken into 7 sections and will be posted all week. Look for me to start getting punchy around, oh I don't know, Wednesday.

This Week at No Tell

Micki Myers refrains from talking about the husbands this week at No Tell Motel.

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Sunday, September 07, 2008

Another Most Significant Literary Event of 2008

Frida, Olive, Gideon and their poem-writing mamas.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

This morning I woke up early and drove 2 1/2 hours through Tropical Storm Hanna to participate in a publishing fair. It was a sucky drive and towards the end, when the weather started clearing up and I was 6 miles away from Cumberland, MD, I tried to "make up some time." About sixty seconds after that bright idea, Smokey snagged me. He was such a gentleman he only wrote me up for 74 in a 65 instead of the 81 mph I was actually going.

I arrived at the publishing fair exhausted, dejected and not too positive. The book tables were under a small tent outside in the middle of a parking lot. The strong wind kept knocking over my books. I expected the day to continue on this miserable track.

But it was surprisingly nice. I got to hang with Ed Ochester, met several nearby publishers I never knew existed, traded a few books, sold 13 (!!!! -- and many of those were sold to STUDENTS, undergrads -- further justifing my preference of undergrad over graduate) AND, I think I found an INTERN.

Yep, that's right, Ms. I-Don't-Need-No-Stinkin'-Intern might have an intern. Guess I'm softening with age. I was talking to the folks at Raw Dog Press and they were telling me all about what they have their interns do, things I never considered. I started thinking about it, I've been re-evaluating lots of things lately. Two minutes later a Frostburg undergrad who was helping with the fair approached me about an internship. It was like all the stars aligning, the planets syncing, a sign from a higher power, that and he overheard the conversation. His timing was perfect and I told him that if he asked me about an internship three hours earlier I would have told him to fuck off.

As I drove home, obeying all the speed limits, I came up with a lot of things an intern could do for No Tell. We'll see how this goes.

Friday, September 05, 2008


No Tell Books (i.e. yours truly) will participate in the Western Maryland Publishing Fair

Featuring Small & Regional Presses at Washington Street Library, Cumberland, MD in Conjunction with the Arts Walk Saturday, September 6, 12-4:30PM

Thursday, September 04, 2008

First Day

Ready to go "all by myself!"

Hmm, you'd think he'd look happier on the drive to school.

Oh crap, there it is.

Here you are Mr. Independence, now off you go.

BTW, while you're away Mommy will be converting your bedroom into her "craft studio". Hah hah hah.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

More on Publishing

Barbara Jane Reyes: Publication Stuff: Or How I Got Myself Some Book Contracts


The Essbaum-Sebastian Nanopress

Jill did a lot of editing with Your Ten Favorite Words making the book 100 times better. Nic's manuscript is in very good hands.

Today was Gideon's preschool orientation. I guess he's all grown up cause he didn't want Chris and me anywhere near him. He wanted us to "wait in the car" while he went into the school by himself - a school he's only been inside once, many months ago and I kinda doubt he remembers. To his horror, we went into the building with him and once we got into the classroom he asked me to stand on the other side of the room. The other kids weren't doing this, for the most part, they were staying close to their parents.

He's only 3 and already we embarrass him.

Last night was the parent orientation where they informed us that the boy's room only has one toilet and the rest are urinals so if our son wasn't familiar with urinals, be sure to introduce him. Well I don't know nothing about no urinals, so Chris took an hour off of work to show him. I don't know, Gideon's been potty trained for like a month, I feel like pushing the concept of aiming is asking a lot, but maybe it's ideas like that are what make me so god damn embarrassing to be around.

That or my Bon Jovi tee.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

How I Published My First Anthology and Made All My Book Making Dreams Come True

At the time, I felt like a nauseous slug and my memory of my pregnancy is that I spent the majority of it lying on the sofa. In hindsight it was an extremely creative and productive time for me -- in every sense of the word. Aside from building a human being in my womb, I wrote many poems, a long collaborative poem, made home improvements to almost every room in my house, started an online magazine (I'll talk more about that tomorrow) and continuously came up with project ideas. One of those ideas was The Bedside Guide to No Tell Motel. While I truly had no concept what motherhood was going to entail, luckily I had the foresight not to start this project until many months after my son was born.

I always wanted to edit and publish books, but for a long time thought it wasn't a possibility because I didn't live in New York or Boston. I thought I'd have to get a job at a publishing house as a poorly paid assistant and slowly work my way up to poorly paid editor. But thankfully with advances in technology, I can be a big-time, no paid publisher right here in Reston, VA -- from the luxury of my chaise lounge. I'm not being sarcastic, I really like working from my chaise lounge. I'd put it up in my office, if there was any room for it.

Towards the end of my pregnancy, I was reading a lot of poetry submissions for No Tell. I had the idea of creating a book that focused on sensual poetry --not erotica, per say-- but the passionate. I ran the idea past my No Tell co-editor, Molly Arden, she was game too. Around that time I purchased a print supplement put out by another online magazine and was impressed with the quality of the printing and paper. This magazine used Lulu -- and it didn't cost the magazine anything to offer this supplement because it was POD. They didn't have to pay for distribution, no short run, they designed the cover and did the layout themselves. They uploaded the files and wa-la, it was available for purchase to anyone who wanted it.

That was very appealing to me. Although I didn't want to do a print supplement to my online magazine. I don't have print envy. The poems at No Tell are available anywhere in the world (with Internet access) for free -- print can't beat that, print can't even come close. That's not an online is superior to print statement, it's an honest assessment of my personal values. I edit and publish a magazine to connect poems to readers -- No Tell Motel does that very successfully. Even the most successful No Tell Book title hasn't reached the number of readers No Tell Motel reaches in a single day. Once in an interview promoting The Bedside Guide the interviewer commented on how the book must be bringing a lot of attention to the online magazine -- wrong, it's the complete opposite. The online magazine is what brings attention to the books. That's one of the reasons I continued on with the "No Tell" branding when I started the press. People recognize it.

In the summer of 2005 Molly and I put out a call for poems and re-read every poem in No Tell archives and made some selections from that. Over the next six months we assembled a collection of 165 pages by 88 poets, some previously published in No Tell and many never before published poems. I tried to layout the book with MS Word, but became incredibly frustrated. I bit the bullet and purchased InDesign. It took me a couple weeks to figure out how to use it, but once I did, I was quite satisfied and use it to layout all my books. Admittedly, I don't use 80% of the software's features. If you're just going to publish one book, I wouldn't recommend spending the money. But if you plan on laying out lots of books, it's something to consider.

We sent out galleys. Then Molly and I both proofed it and had a couple friends proof it too. I'm happy to say the book is clean. I wish I could say the book was complete. You see, after I sent out all the contributor copies, one of the contributors wrote and asked where his poem was. His name was on the back cover, his bio was in the contributor notes, but his poem wasn't listed in the TOC or appeared anywhere in the book. I was mortified. Apparently I never included his poem. I went through every single acceptance e-mail and discovered another poem that didn't appear. There was a flaw in my proofing process: I was working from the TOC -- and since those two poems weren't in the TOC, nothing seemed amiss during our many proofings. Neither poet thought it odd that they didn't receive galleys (even though I sent out a message to all contributors announcing all galleys had been sent) so no flags on that end until the book was finished. I was really upset when I discovered the second missing poem, I threw my glasses across the room and started crying. Chris gave his patented bewildered stare. I nearly killed myself trying to make the book perfect and it was clearly flawed.

Amends were made, both poems appear in the The Bedside Guide to No Tell Motel -- Second Floor -- and I hope both contributors are satisfied, but there's nothing I can do to make up for that initial disappointment I created. I have empathy for their situation. My work has been accepted for publication and been left out before too, I've been published as "Rob" Livingston and other unfixable errors. It happens at all levels of publishing. I often find typos and errors in books from big publishers. To err is to err. For the second Bedside Guide I created an entirely different proofing system in a spreadsheet with multi checklists that made leaving anything out damn near impossible.

Unfortunate incident aside, the first Bedside Guide was a successful test. I did it to learn if I enjoyed editing and publishing books. If I didn't, it would just be a single book associated with an online magazine. As it turns out, I did enjoy it and it became the first title on the list of a new poetry press.

I should note that publishing an anthology costs considerably more than a one-author collection. You will not be publishing an anthology for $500. That's because there are a lot of contributor copies to print and postage (mailing out these copies). It's my opinion that if you're going to publish a book, you are obligated to give every contributor a copy.


Monday, September 01, 2008

My long weekend comprised of yard work, laundry, house cleaning, a failed baking attempt and a birthday celebration. Tomorrow I will resume the "making our dreams come true" posts.

This Week at No Tell

Kim Gek Lin Short is a woman now, they all said, this week at No Tell Motel.

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