Reporting In, Summer 2016

Hi there! It’s been months since I’ve last posted, and I thought I’d give you an update about what I’ve been doing in my writing. I’ve revised (again) my book-length manuscript of persona poems: weaving in newer, stronger pieces and pulling out weaker ones, as well as re-organizing them into a different sequence. You know, the usual. And sending off sets of poems in the manuscript to journals—lots of journals!

Since November 2015, I’ve been making a concerted effort to send out far more journal submissions, and to do so more systematically, than I have before. To get organized for that effort, I created a big chart of about 30 journals in which I’d love to see my work published. Using data from Duotrope, The Review Review, and NewPages, I assembled information about acceptance rates, reading periods, response times, and editorial preferences. As time went on, I added over 30 more journals to my chart, as well as recorded dates on which I’ve submitted poems and received responses, plus the comments I’ve received from several editors. Inspired by poets who post their submissions stats on Jessica Piazza’s Poetry Has Value blog, here are my numbers, after 9 months of this project, as they currently stand:

  • Sets of (3-5) poems submitted: 60
  • Individual poems submitted: 50
  • Total poems submitted: 296
  • Individual poems accepted for publication: 5 (by 3 journals)
  • Sets of poems rejected: 58
  • Rejection notices with encouraging notes like “these poems came close” or “we encourage you to send us more to consider”: 16
  • Presses to which I submitted my chapbook and full-length and manuscripts: 19 (rejections: 8–but my manuscript was a semifinalist in one contest)
  • Journals to which I’ve submitted two different nonfiction lyric essays:  9 (rejections received: 5)
  • Total rejections received: 71

This project yields only a 1.6% acceptance rate for my poems, but I’m glad I’m making this effort. I’m encouraged by the number of “send us more” rejections; these motivate me to sustain this push, which has resulted in my sending out more work in the past ¾ of a year than I’ve sent out in the past 15 years combined.

I’m motivated also by an article I read recently in LitHub by Kim Liao, who explains “Why You Should Aim for 100 Rejections a Year: Flipping Your Perspective on Rejections, and Failing Best.” By aiming for this many rejections, a writer is sure to score some acceptances along the way. Perhaps even more important, this approach helps take the sting out of receiving rejections, and reinforces the truth that rejections are just part of the business of being a writer, not a soul-crushing indictment of the quality of one’s writing. By Kim Liao’s method, I’m 71% of the way to reaching the goal of 100 for the year. (But my year began in mid-November 2015, so I’d better pick up my lackadaisical summer pace if I’m going to make it to 100 by mid-November 2016!)

Another benefit of sending out so many submissions is receiving encouragement from journal editors, even when that encouragement arrives in the context of a rejection notice. To hear from an editor that even though they don’t currently have space for my work, they really enjoyed it, or that my poem made it to their final round of consideration, and that they want to read more from me in the future, is terrifically affirming. To receive this kind of feedback from editors I deeply respect–including those at journals like Black Warrior Review, Copper Nickel, Gulf Coast, Pleiades, Puerto del Sol, and Water~Stone Review–is validation to continue aiming high as I submit my work to literary magazines. Yes, I do plan to broaden my approach to include publications that aren’t quite so keenly competitive, so that I’ll increase my chances for actually getting my work into print. But this “at first, aim high” approach has been very useful as an exercise in level-finding. Now that I know where my work almost gets accepted, I can focus on those journals, and on journals in the next tier down, as I make subsequent rounds of submissions.

So where did those 3 acceptances come from, you may ask?

One is from Tinderbox Poetry Journal, one of the literary magazines to which I submitted a set of poems last December and whose editors replied that one of them came close. So this spring I submitted another set, and they chose my prose poem “Amanda Bubble Composes a Fifty-Word, Third-Person Contributor Bio for an Anthology on the Theme of Vulnerability” to appear in the October 2016 issue.

Another acceptance was from Bellingham Review, whose previous editors included one of my poems in last fall’s online issue and featured me in a blog interview. Subsequently, the new editors have accepted two more poems, “Amanda Bubble Has Moments of Sublimity and Moments of Abjection” and “In Which I Apologize to Amanda Bubble.” These are slated to appear in the spring 2017 print issue.

The third acceptance is from Cider Press Review–another wonderful repeat acceptance. After publishing one of my poems this past winter, the editors accepted two more for this year–and one of them went live the very next day! You can read “Organize Your Home Using This Weird Old Trick” here, in Issue 18.3, and “I Anticipate a Metamorphosis” will appear in a later issue. Thank you to editors Ruth Foley and Caron Andregg for giving these poems such an excellent home!

 

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New Poems Up at Bellingham Review and Pontoon

I’m honored to have two poems published this month! “Amanda Bubble Crafts a New Creation Story” appears in Issue 71 of Bellingham Review; my thanks to former Editor-in-Chief Brenda Miller, current Editor-in-Chief Suzanne Paola Antonetta, former Managing Editor Ellie A. Rogers, and current Managing Editor Louis McLaughlin for including my poem. When you visit, please check out the gorgeous essay “He Worked as an Electrician. He Enjoyed Television. (His Obituary Was Plain.)” by Spokane poet Maya Jewell Zeller!

In addition, my poem “What Was Good about Going to Church” has been selected for this year’s issue of Pontoon, the journal of poems by Washington-state poets who submitted chapbook manuscripts to Floating Bridge Press. My thanks to everyone on the editorial committee at FBP! For the first time, Pontoon is now online, allowing wider access to readers. Here’s my poem, and here’s the first page of the Table of Contents (be sure to click through all four pages to read the whole issue). I hope you enjoy!

Tahoma Literary Review Reading at Elliott Bay Books July 23, 7:00 p.m.

!cid_0_28876465680_542034058747999009Tahoma Literary Review, edited by Kelly Davio and Joe Ponepinto, will host a reading at Seattle’s Elliott Bay Book Company on Thursday, July 23, at 7:00 p.m. to celebrate the journal’s one-year anniversary and launch issue #4. Featured readers will include some of my fave Pacific Northwest poets!

One of my poems appeared in Issue #2 of Tahoma. Favorite poems in the new issue, #4, include one by Ronda Broatch, whose new collection is out from MoonPath Press; and a stunning 20-part poem, “A Geneology of the Word,” by Nickole Brown.

Enjoy!

New Poem Up at Heron Tree Journal

I’m thrilled to have a poem of mine, “Amanda Bubble Recalls a Beautiful River Flowing Through Her Past (after William Stafford),” published this week at Heron Tree, an online journal collected in annual print volumes. My thanks to editors Chris Campolo, Sandy Longhorn, and Rebecca Resinski for choosing my poem, and for their work curating Heron Tree, which I’ve been enjoying as a subscriber for over a year now. Please have a look around the archives herehere, and here!

Readings During National Poetry Month

Hello! I get to join two amazing lineups of poets for April readings in the Seattle area. I plan to read some bird and horse poems, some Amanda Bubble poems, some mythological persona poems, and possibly a new prose poem about a goat named Derrick. Please come if you can!

April 6, I’ll be part of a Floating Bridge Press reading at the Fremont Library featuring Dennis Caswell and Michael Schmeltzer. Their manuscripts were among the finalists for last year’s Floating Bridge Press Chapbook Award, and somehow my manuscript, Amanda Bubble Is Nearly on Fire, was also one of them. Dennis Caswell’s 2012 collection Phlogiston was published by Floating Bridge, and Michael Schmeltzer’s poetry manuscripts have had near brushes with winning a number of highly competitive awards. I’ve had the pleasure of reading with Michael twice this past year, and this month, I’ll get to read twice with Dennis!

…because on April 16, when I read at Edmonds Book Shop, the lineup again includes Dennis, along with Bethany Reid (one of my other favorite poets to read with and author of Sparrow, one of my favorite poetry books of 2012), Erika Michael, and David Horowitz, editor at Rose Alley Press and author of the brand-new collection Cathedral and Highrise. So much poetry to enjoy!

Here are the relevant particulars:

Monday, April 6: Floating Bridge Press reading at the Fremont Library, 731 N. 35th St., Seattle, 6:30 p.m. (here are directions and map)

Thursday, April 16: Poetry in Edmonds at Edmonds Book Shop, 111 5th Avenue South, Edmonds, WA, 6:30 p.m. (here are directions and map link)

Please help me to spread the word, and I hope to see you around during Poetry Month!

Good Poetry News

Hi, everyone, and Happy New Year to you!

Tahoma Literary Review, Issue 2: Cover Art by Camille Patha

Two very lovely poetry things happened to me this week. First, my poem “She Replies to the Alumni Coordinator of the Conservative Christian College Where She Took a Summer Art Class in 1997” was published in Tahoma Literary Review. Magic! I’m grateful to have had my poem selected by Poetry Editor Kelly Davio, and presented alongside some of my favorite Washington-State poets, including Martha Silano, Nance Van Winckel, Jeannine Hall Gailey, and Michael Schmeltzer. A vibrant painting by Seattle artist Camille Patha graces the cover. Click here to read the issue online or order a print version.

Also, my poem “Amanda Bubble Worries About the Food Chain” was published in the new literary journal Wherewithal. Issue 1 debuted in November, and my poem is featured in this week’s Poet Spotlight. My thanks to Wherewithal editors Denise Weuve, Daniel Romo, Danielle Mitchell, and Melissa Prunty Kemp!

Amanda Bubble Has Had a Really Good Year

A few years ago, I invented a persona named Amanda Bubble, in whose voice I’ve written a couple of dozen poems. Gradually, hers has become the most frequent voice in my full-length manuscript (the latest iteration of which I’ve given the working title “Amanda Bubble and the Wild-Caught Gods”). Like me, she asks a lot of questions about God, ethics, and poetry. Unlike me, she’s young (probably late twenties), sassy, and frustrated about not being able to write novels. I’m having a lot of fun with her voice, which I imagine includes frequent uptalk at the end of her sentences? And those sentences, sometimes fragments, like she’s just tossing off remarks.

Amanda Bubble has had the good fortune of making a lot of friends in the past year. Four of her poems have been published in two different issues of Clover: A Literary Rag, and another in the 2013 Floating Bridge Review. This year, Floating Bridge Review has chosen another for the forthcoming issue. She has received many kind compliments from audiences at readings, and most exciting of all, she’s become the star of her own chapbook manuscript. (She likes that very much, but is just a little uncomfortable with all the attention?)

That chapbook manuscript, titled “Amanda Bubble Is Nearly on Fire,” was one of five finalists for this year’s Floating Bridge Press Chapbook Award, open to Washington-State poets. I’m thrilled that I’ve been invited to give a reading with another finalist, Michael Schmeltzer, and the winner, John Whalen, at the Seattle launch of his winning chapbook, Above the Pear Trees.

That reading will be Monday, September 29, 7:00 p.m. at Richard Hugo House in Seattle.

I’ll also be reading a couple of Amanda Bubble poems at a multi-author reading from the current issue of Clover: A Literary Rag on Sunday, September 21, 4:00 p.m. at Village Books in Bellingham.

If you’re in the area, please come to one or both of these events and enjoy the celebrations!