Catching Up and Looking Forward

I’m thankful to have closed out 2017 with an autumn of publications, encouraging news, and lots of literary events to look forward to in 2018.

I spent the first half of 2017 writing and revising a new full-length manuscript of resistance poems titled “The Tongue of Narcissus.” Since then, I’ve continued to polish the manuscript and slide in occasional new poems. I’ve found wonderful homes for seven of those poems in Rise Up Review, Nasty Women Poets: An Unapologetic Anthology of Subversive Verse, Heavy Feather Review, and, most recently, Green Linden. Three more are slated for publicaton in Moon City Review next spring. And in November, I got amazing news: the manuscript is a finalist for the Brittingham and Felix Pollak Prizes at the University of Wisconsin Press! I’ll need to hold my breath until mid-February, possibly, to hear the results. (Deep inhale with fingers crossed!)

In addition, 2017 was a year of progress for “Wild-Caught Gods,” the full-length manuscript I’ve been working on for 10 years now. I put it through two more revisions, one during the summer and another last month, to implement lessons I learned from the process of assembling my new manuscript. As a collection of persona poems, “Wild-Caught Gods” needed more glue to pull together its multi-vocal distress cries about ecological crisis, epistemic anxiety, and what I call my “toxic patriarchy” critiques of monotheism. As you can guess from this description, it also needed more humor! So I added in my weird, sarcastic-voiced poems using scientific lexicons to leaven and punctuate the seriousness. Poems from this manuscript found good homes in Water~Stone Review, Bracken, Clover, and Washington 129: Poets of Washington, edited by State Poet Laureate Tod Marshall. Amanda Bubble had an especially good autumn, with two poems in her voice appearing in Bellingham Review, and five poems in Muse / A Journal, including the very first Amanda Bubble poem I wrote: “When Your Name Is Amanda Bubble, You Don’t Get to Cry at the Bar.” I’m thrilled that Muse /A Journal Editor Greg Murray has nominated “Amanda Bubble Pines for a God to Call Her Own” for a Pushcart Prize! To cap it off, the manuscript was a finalist for the Moon City Poetry Prize at Moon City Press. It didn’t win, but knowing it advanced so far through the selection process energized me to continue to hone it.

I deeply appreciate the work of all these editors, who do so much to support the writers they publish and nurture the communities they create around their presses and journals.

I tried for other ambitious goals last year. I applied for a writing residency in Brora, Scotland, and was named a finalist. I submitted a lyric essay to The Gulf Coast Prize for Nonfiction and received an honorable mention. My review of Cecily Parks’s anthology The Echoing Green: Poems of Fields, Meadows, and Grasses was published in Terrain.org. Successes (and exciting near-misses) like these have given me great encouragement to aim high with my writing.

In the coming year, I have exciting plans to share. This month, I’m racing toward a deadline on a creative-nonfiction book proposal and partial manuscript for a collection of essays dealing with mental health, motherhood, ecological crisis, theology, and walking. I’ve submitted presentation and workshop proposals for a spring literary festival, and plans are in the works for readings in Duvall and Tacoma.

Also this winter, I’m doing group readings of Nasty Women Poets: An Unapologetic Anthology of Subversive Verse (Edited by Grace Bauer and Julie Kane, Lost Horse Press, 2017) in Bellingham, Redmond, and Seattle. Whatcom County friends: please join Carolyne Wright, Jessica Lee, Susan J. Erickson, and me on Sunday, January 14, 4:00 p.m. at Village Books in Fairhaven for the anthology’s western Washington launch!

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May the year ahead grace you with all good things,
Jennifer

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