For the 14th straight year, the New School Writing Program hosts the launch reading of The Best American Poetry.These poets represented in the 2015 book will take part in an event moderated by series editor David Lehman, poetry coordinator, New School Writing Program, and Sherman Alexie, guest editor of The Best American Poetry 2015.
Sarah Arvio, Melissa Barrett, Mark Bibbins, Emma Bolden, Catherine Bowman, Jericho Brown, Julie Carr, Chen Chen', Danielle DeTiberus, Natalie Diaz, Meredith Hasemann, Saeed Jones, Joan Naviyuk Kane, Laura Kasischke, David Kirby, Dana Levin, Dora Malech, Donna Masini, Airea Dee Matthews, Laura McCullough, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Dennis Nurkse, Alan Michael Parker, Donald Platt, Raphael Rubinstein, Bethany Schultz-Hurst, Evie Shockley,Sandra Simonds, Susan Terris, Michael Tyrell, Sidney Wade, Cody Walker, Afaa Michael Weaver, Terence Winch, Jane Wong, and Monica Youn.
Books will be for sale. The New School will provide sign language interpretation.
This week we welcome Don Freas as our guest author. Don is a poet and sculptor, and was a furniture designer-craftsman for forty years. Raised in Pennsylvania, he migrated in 1972 to the Pacific Northwest where he lives and works along the shores of Puget Sound in Olympia, Washington. He holds a 1996 MFA from Bennington College. His most recent book of poems is SWALLOWING THE WORLD: NEW AND SELECTED POEMS (Lost Arts Design, 2015). You can find more information about his poetry at donfreaspoetry.com, sculpture and furniture at donfreas.com. Follow Don on twitter @donfreas.
Welcome, Don. sdh & DL
This week we welcome Anna Cypra Oliver as our guest author. Anna is the author of the acclaimed memoir Assembling My Father (Houghton Mifflin, 2004; Mariner Books, 2006). Her essays have appeared in The Inquisitive Eater (published along with her painting, “Consider the Lobster,”), Tupelo Quarterly, Fourth Genre, and dislocate. She received a 2001 fellowship in nonfiction literature from the New York Foundation for the Arts and holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Minnesota. These days, she spends most of her time painting instead of writing.
Asked to explain the Poetry Foundation's mandate -- to serve "poetry rather than poets" -- Kiphart says, "By building the largest possible audience for poetry, we believe that we are serving all poets." The first item on his agenda moving forward is "a national search for a new president." A Vietnam veteran, who served as an officer aboard a US Navy minesweeper, Kiphart responded warmly to the suggestion that the Poetry Foundation should support an effort to distribute books of poetry to US servicemen, as was done during WWII: "What an interesting idea! Happily, through our digital programs, we offer more than 13,000 poems for free, as well as every issue of the magazine, podcasts and lots of other content. This is another point of pride for the Foundation’s great work in building an amazing poetry archive."
This week we welcome Alex Cigale as our guest author. Alex's English-language poems have appeared in Colorado, Green Mountains, and The Literary Reviews, and online in The Common, Drunken Boat and McSweeney's. His translations from the Russian can be found in Cimarron Review, Literary Imagination, Modern Poetry in Translation, New England Review, PEN America, TriQuarterly, Two Lines, andWorld Literature Today. He is on the editorial boards of MadHat Press, Plume, Springhouse Journal, St. Petersburg Review, Third Wednesday, and Verse Junkies. He is the editor of the Spring 2015 Russia Issue of the Atlanta Review and a 2015 NEA Translation Fellow, for his work on the poet of the St. Petersburg philological school Mikhail Eremin. From 2011 until 2013, he was an Assistant Professor at the American University of Central Asia in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. You can follow him on twitter @cigalex
Yesterday I wrote about editorial curation and publication. Today I want to talk more about what it’s like to start a press, as well mention our current call for submissions.
I started Augury Books five years ago because a friend and I had been kicking the idea around and eventually we hit that strange tipping point where we’d talked about it so much that the idea gained its own momentum and became real almost without our quite noticing. We also had friends who had just started an experimental translation journal, Telephone, and watching them launch their project made starting our own seem less daunting. When the events director at the Rubin Museum, a former poetry student of mine, asked if I’d curate a poetry reading there, it pushed us from talk into action.
Our first year felt like walking around blindfolded in the dark. Christine Kanownik, my then co-editor, made a Wordpress site for us, we posted a call for submissions, and then suddenly we were reading manuscripts. We didn't have enough money to go to print, but we selected our favorite from the submissions pile—Patrick Moran’s The Book of Lost Things—and ran a fund-raising campaign to finance publishing it, as well as two chapbooks. Paige Lipari, one of our chapbook authors, also designed our logo: a fox standing next to a top hat. Christine taught herself layout programs and got the books ready. I called local bars and sweet-talked their owners until Botanica on Houston Street promised us their back room and drink specials for our launch party. There was a delay with one of our printers (both their fault and ours) and one title, which should have been ready weeks earlier, had to be shipped to us overnight the day before the launch. I look back now and I see how much we were winging it every day, but still we made three beautiful books.
During our reading period the following summer, Christine got a new job with heavier time commitments and resigned from our board. I didn't want Augury to die—I wanted to publish more books and I felt a sense of obligation to our current authors to keep their work in print—so I brought on a new editorial board (Kimberly Steele and then Nick Amara, a former intern, rejoined us as our assistant editor) and we went legit. We began using outside book designers and photographers. We joined CLMP. We hired a lawyer and incorporated, and then gained fiscal sponsorship under Fractured Atlas. We expanded from publishing only poetry into also being a home for short story collections and nonfiction. We’re still based in New York, but we partnered up with SPD for national distribution so we don't have to race to the post office every time we get a book order.
It’s been hard at times. In the first two years, before we had experience and when the board changed, I was terrified we might run out of money or screw up the design or somehow let our authors down. I didn’t know how to balance running a business and still meet all my teaching commitments, let alone find time for my own writing and maintain some semblance of a personal life. But somehow we made it work. And it’s still working—better and more seamlessly than ever. In the past few years, our authors have won the O. Henry prize for short fiction, the San Diego Book Award, and the Tony Quagliano International Poetry Award, and have been featured on the Poetry Society of America’s website and in PEN America World Voices Anthology. The press itself has been profiled for VIDA’s Editor’s Corner feature and Poets and Writers’ Small Press Points. Through it all, we’ve remained dedicated to publishing innovative work from emerging and established writers and showcasing voices that we believe in.
It’s hard to start a press. If I’d known how much work really goes into it, I don’t know if I would actually have done it. But I’m so glad I did, and I can’t imagine quitting. Now when people ask me for advice about starting a press, I have a short go-to list:
1) Have a small cushion of money set aside before you start. It’s dangerous to rely only on submissions fees and fund-raising at first. We would have been much calmer at the beginning if we’d been less hand to mouth back then.
2) Go legit as soon as you can. It’s safer for you and your authors if you’re legally covered, and it’s a solid affirmation of your commitment to stay in publishing for the long term.
3) The amount work you think it will take? Triple that. Then add more.
4) Add at a few months onto any deadline. There will be roadblocks. Sometimes content edits with your authors take longer than you expected, sometimes design does, sometimes there will be issues with the printer or the post office might lose your shipment or unforeseeable events like Hurricane Sandy will throw off your production cycle.
5) Remember that you have an obligation to your authors to do the best job that you can with their books. That doesn’t always mean you have to agree with them about edits or launch dates or cover design, but it does mean you must stay a responsible business that will keep their books in print and accessible to readers, and that you will behave with integrity in your dealings with them and the rest of the literary community. And remember also to treat all the manuscripts in your submissions pile with the same amount of respect. It is an act of trust for a prospective author to submit their work to you: be worthy of that trust by being a thoughtful reader. Try to understand what each author is trying to accomplish. Take breaks from reading when you start feeling burned out. Don’t look at submissions if you’re hungry or tired or cranky or have a headache or the neighbors downstairs are blasting music so loudly that their sound system obscures whatever music lurks in the manuscript you are trying to read.
I want to end this post by being self-serving: Augury Books is in the middle of our yearly open reading period right now and I’d like to share our call for submissions. Right now we are looking for high-quality full-length poetry, short story, and nonfiction collections. If you have a manuscript that’s looking for a home, you can find further guidelines and a link to submit your work at our Submittable page.
If you have any questions that our Submittable page does not answer, please feel free to ask us for more information at email@example.com
It’s an honor and a privilege to be an editor. No press can exist without authors who entrust us with their work. Thank you for writing your books.
This week we welcome back Kate Angus as our guest author. Kate is a founding editor of Augury Books. She has been awarded A Room of Her Own Foundation’s Orlando prize and the Southeastern Review’s Narrative Nonfiction prize. A former Writer in Residence at Interlochen Arts Academy, she has also received residencies from the Writer’s Room at the Betsy Hotel in South Beach, the Wildfjords trail in Westfjords, Iceland, and the BAU Institute in Otranto, Italy. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Indiana Review, Subtropics, Court Green, Verse Daily, Quarterly West, The Awl, The Hairpin, The Rumpus, The Toast, failbetter, Best New Poets 2010 and Best New Poets 2014.
Welcome back, Kate.
I’m thrilled to announce that I have been named the first poet laureate of the New York City Greenmarkets, the largest and most diverse outdoor urban farmers market network in the country, with over 50 locations throughout the five boroughs. My job is to select poems of high literary merit that showcase foods and beverages that are seasonal and specific to our region.
The poems will be printed along with recipes by noted cookbook authors and chefs and distributed free at all markets.
One of the first poems I’ve picked is “Nettles” by Katha Pollitt from Antarctic Traveller (Knopf,1982). Katha has graciously allowed GrowNYC reprint it. To read her poem and the accompanying recipe, click on the link below:
Do you have a favorite food poem? Please enter the title and poet in the comment field.
This week we welcome back Sandra Simonds as our guest author. Sandra is the author of four books of poetry including the forthcoming Steal It Back from Saturnalia Books, The Sonnets (Bloof Books, 2014), Mother Was a Tragic Girl (Cleveland State Poetry Center, 2012) and Warsaw Bikini (Bloof Books, 2009). Her poems have appeared in the Best American Poetry 2015 and 2014, American Poetry Review, Boston Review, Poetry, Fence, The Chicago Review, The Awl, and other places. Follow her on twitter @sandmansimonds.
Welcome back, Sandra.
In 1968 I didn't really know you though
Dick Gallup, who sat next to me
in Kenneth Koch's "Modern Poetry"
class, invited me to a party and
there you were and I went to hear
you read and went through old
copies of Columbia Review to read
your poems (including the one
signed "the sloth sloth") and why
am I telling you this? Because it's
your day of the year, and you're a gem
as well as a Gemini twin, and I
would tip my fedora to you if
I were wearing one as men used
to say when men wore fedoras.
-- David Lehman (June 17, 2013)
This week we welcome back Lisa Vihos as our guest author. Lisa is a poet, blogger, and grant writer living in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Currently in a period of transition between jobs, she recently took a break from everyday reality to attend the inaugural 100 Thousand Poets for Change World Conference in Salerno, Italy where she was honored to hang out with poet-activists from all over the world, share poems in multiple languages, and envision how poetry can make the world a more just and peaceful place. Along with two chapbooks, A Brief History of Mail (Pebblebrook Press, 2011) and The Accidental Present (Finishing Line Press, 2012), her poems have appeared in Big Muddy, The Camel Saloon, Forge, Main Street Rag, Mom Egg, Red Fez, Seems, Verse Wisconsin and other journals and magazines. She is the poetry and arts editor for Stoneboat Literary Journal and is pleased to be back for her fourth gig at Best American Poetry online. Visit her blog at Frying the Onion.
Welcome back, Lisa.
Volare o o
cantare o o o o,
nel blu dipinto di blu
felice di stare lassù,
e volavo volavo
felice più in alto del sole
ed ancora più sù,
mentre il mondo
pian piano spariva laggiù,
una musica dolce suonava
soltanto per me. . .
It began as quickly and unexpectedly as falling down a rabbit hole, or passing through a mirror—an e-mail arrived, out of the blue, from one of the previous holders of the position, the critic Christopher Ricks. The subject line was “An Inquiry,” and it was characteristically brief:
“It came to me that you would be an excellent professor of poetry at Oxford. (Geoffrey Hill has not long to go.) Would this possibility interest you?”
An American poet day-dreams of course about certain prizes, recognition, or positions, however implausible, but the Oxford Professor of Poetry simply is not one of them—it seems such the exclusive purview of British and Irish men. In its 300 years, it has never gone to a woman or indeed as far as I am aware, to anyone outside of the British Isles. It had never crossed my mind.
But I said yes I’d give it a go, and we were off.
All at once, I found myself in a sort of Wonderland, and in a horse race (I would say a caucus-race, but not everyone will be able to demand prizes), as well as a literary-political game of chess. I was standing in a unique election, a mixture of that rarest of things, direct democracy, and one of the most rarefied: only Oxford graduates (and other members of Convocation) may vote. The position was established in 1708 by Henry Birkhead, who founded it on the notion that “the reading of the ancient poets gave keenness and polish to the minds of young men.” It was originally only open to clergymen from Merton.
According to The Guardian, “Soyinka’s backers have been keen to stress that they consider the post more like an honour to be bestowed than a job to be applied for.” I want to say the exact opposite—yet that’s too facile. Maybe instead the office could be described as an honor to be applied for, a job to be bestowed. For all its grandeur and prestige, the post is, in essence, the oldest and first Poet in Residence in education. Certainly I have been applying very hard since the middle of March.
Numerous rules have been changed since the scandal-ridden election of 2009. To get on the ballot used to require only a dozen nominators with Oxford degrees; now it takes fifty. We hunted after the requisite nominators for a couple of weeks (among them Tobias Wolff, Christopher Ricks of course, Adrian McKinty, Chlo Aridjis), followed up on their filling out and mailing of the nominator form (which could not be scanned or faxed), and collated before sending them to the Election office. In an abundance of caution, we ended up with 73.
Perhaps the most significant change to the process, however, is that in the last election on-line voting was introduced. (The use of paper ballots was costly, and one had to vote in person.) Overseas voters were a factor last time, but this time will be, I think, more so. It remains to be seen how social media and the internet will change the nature of the election. I suspect surprises lie in store.
It’s been an intense roller coaster too: reaching out to the press, reading virulent blog posts (note to self—do not read the comments), asking major academics and writers for support. But also exciting, even moving--generous endorsements from publications such as the TLS, and highly-regarded and popular critics such as Mary Beard and Amanda Foreman. You learn who your friends are (and foes) in the literary community. You might tower over the treetops, or find yourself at the bottom of a treacle well, three or four times a day. My immensely supportive husband, John Psaropoulos, who is a Greek journalist (though UK citizen) already run off his feet with the “crisis,” has had to do a lot more cooking than usual and more supervising of long division at homework time. I have been living for months on a diet of jittery adrenaline and arcane Oxford gossip.
The principal job requirement is a lecture a term, though the professor should also do something else—a reading, workshop, meeting with students. But the qualifications (the candidate “must be of sufficient distinction to be able to fulfill the duties of the post”) and job description (“to participate in the wider intellectual life of the English faculty to encourage the production and appreciation of poetry”) are vague; the job is yours to define. Being a poet is not a requirement, and indeed some of the best professors have been critics. The current holder, Geoffrey Hill, a vigorous octogenarian, has been delivering rousing old-testament jeremiads to standing ovations. As a matter of policy, however, he does not meet with students. Seamus Heaney, who was professor when I was in residence, delivered compelling and humane talks; it turns out you could book an appointment to meet with him and discuss your poems, but either I didn’t know it at the time, or I couldn’t work up the nerve. Other professors, Robert Graves and W. H. Auden for instance, would meet students at cafes or pubs. I would aim to be a Professor in that approachable mold. And I would hope that, as the first woman, and maybe almost as important, the first American apart from the naturalized citizen W. H. Auden (Rober Lowell lost to Edmund Blunden in 1966), I would also serve as an encouragement to others.
Most of all I kept thinking, as I wandered through Oxford this past week (I was there to give a reading at Rhodes House), what a curious and curiouser turn of events the whole matter was. As a young and insecure American graduate student twenty years ago, Oxford intimidated me: I felt awkward, that I didn’t belong, I was out of my element. Now I seemed to be collegially accepted, claimed even, staying at the Lodgings of the Principal of my old college, collaborating in the campaign with my former tutor, having a strategic coffee in the Senior Common Room in Christ Church, meeting with students at the Eagle and Child (watering hole of the Inklings—C.S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, etc.), attending a dinner at high table. Had I made it somehow, a pale anonymous pawn, to the far end of the chessboard?
Walking through the gorgeous gardens of Lady Margaret Hall, in their full glory at the beginning of June, by the banks of the Cherwell fringed with doilies of Queen Anne’s lace, I was ambushed by a bewildering mixture of melancholy and joy, gratitude and wonder. I would sometimes take a turn on the path and feel a stab of—not of nostalgia, since surely a place of brief sojourn in my youth could not be called home—but chronalgia, as if the soul of the young woman aspiring to be a poet, and the soul of the poet I had become, passed right through each other, coming and going.
It’s been disappointing to see that one major English newspaper in particular has made a narrative out of a two-man race—which I suppose is true in the sense that the two front-runners are men. But it is also an exciting and historic time for women in Oxford. The university recently appointed its first female Vice Chancellor (nothing Vice about it—this is the head of the university), in the Oxford’s eight-hundred some-odd years. And St. Benet’s Hall, the last all-male college, just voted to admit female students for the first time. Maybe good things come in threes.
It’s been a wild ride, full of thrills and confusion, bemusement and vexations, anxiety and hope. But anything is possible as we run round and round towards the finish line. With only days to go before the end of voter registration, and only three weeks until the end of the election, right now my odds at Ladbrokes are five to one.
A. E. Stallings, Athens
(ed note: Find out how to register and vote for A. E. Stallings here.)
The American poet Alicia Stallings (A. E. Stallings as she appears on a magazine's Table of Contents) is on the short list of candidates for the Oxford Professor of Poetry. If elected, she will be the first woman to hold the post.
We hope she gets the job! And if you are a graduate of Oxford, you can cast your vote for her by registering on line here. You must act quickly; voter registration will close on June 8 in the UK (June 7 in the US). Voting will conclude on Wednesday 17 June 2015.
Stallings studied Classics at the University of Georgia, in Athens, Georgia, and later at Oxford. She is much honored for her poetry -- with accolades including the Richard Wilbur award and the Poets’ Prize. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, has been a Guggenheim Fellow and holds a MacArthur Fellowship. The MacArthur Foundation’s citation says she mines "the classical world and traditional poetic techniques to craft works that evoke startling insights about contemporary life." Her work has been set to music by eight composers. An accomplished translator, she has rendered Lucretius into rhymed fourteeners.. A translation of Hesiod is forthcoming from Penguin. She has also translated modern Greek verse into English. Her poems have been included in several volumes of The Best American Poetry, including the 2015 volume forthcoming this fall. She has lived in Athens, Greece, since 1999.You can read Stallings’ candidate statement here.
The Professor of Poetry at Oxford dates to 1708. Matthew Arnold, twice elected to the position, (in 1857 and 1862), created the professorship in its modern form: Arnold spoke about literary matters of contemporary concern, and was the first to deliver his lectures in English as opposed to Latin. If elected, Stallings will be 45th Professor of Poetry and the first woman to hold the post.
The Oxford chair of poetry has long been regarded as one of the most prestigious and prominent posts in the field. Previous incumbents have included Matthew Arnold, A.C. Bradley, C. Day-Lewis, W.H. Auden, Robert Graves, Roy Fuller, Peter Levi, Seamus Heaney, James Fenton, Paul Muldoon, and Christopher Ricks. The incumbent is Geoffrey Hill. "Making, Knowing and Judging," Auden's inaugural Oxford lecture, which he delivered on June 11, 1956, is reprinted in his book The Dyer's Hand.
This week we welcome back Mark Eleveld as our guest author. Mark is the editor of The Spoken Word Revolution series. He programmed the first Poetry Jam at the White House for President and First Lady Barack Obama. He is a copublisher at EM Press, a board member of the Society of Midland Authors, and reviews books for ALA Booklist. He is a teacher at Lewis University and Joliet West High School.
It was at Civitella that Mark wrote most of his last book, Almost Invisible, a brilliant collection of prose poems, several of which were selected for The Best American Poetry (2011 and 2012 editions). He usually wrote sitting in the sun at the picnic table of the Fellows' Garden.
Mark moved from Chicago to New York, from New York to Madrid, and back to New York. With each move he pared down his library. “There's only about 400 books that really mean anything to me anymore," he said. "I just want to get down to 400 books.” Civitella was the lucky recipients of his cast-offs.
His initial gifts of books to Civitella numbered 1200 volumes, primarily poetry in English, but many books of poetry in Spanish and Italian. There were numerous volumes of literary criticism, philosophy, and the classics.
The last time Mark was a Director's Guest at Civitella, in 2011, he was reading the new translation of Don Quixote. “I don't want it to end,” he said, “I am reading it so slowly because I don't want to finish it.”
(Ed note: this message comes to me from my dear friend Paul Tracy Danison, an American who has lived and worked in Paris for decades. He offers this service, which I encourage you to try during your next trip abroad. sdh)
American, I am a management coach living and working in Paris, France.
When I am feeling up or down, I walk. When I need to think, I walk. When I need to walk, I think. A good walk irons out most small and big existential wrinkles.
Paris is the best place I've ever been for this. It enables food, drink, new ideas and entertainment between the pricklier points on the psychic map.
All this is why, all-American that I remain, I live in Paris. The walking is good and the city lends some of its elegance and beauty to conclusions, decisions & actions.
I would like to offer you the opportunity to try a coaching based on my personal practice.
Here's how to set it up. Send me a theme - a single word will do: 'Balzac' - and I'll send you a walking proposition (street corner to street corner) as well as whatever recommendations might come to mind, and coordinates, conditions and tariffs.
Contact email: firstname.lastname@example.org
We'll then do a short telephone interview to clarify needs & expectations.
Aller se promener à Paris
Américain de pure souche, je pratique le coaching professionnel à Paris où j'ai choisi depuis longtemps déjà de démarrer une nouvelle vie.
Quand le blues et/ou la joie, majuscules, me gagnent, j’aime marcher pour me remettre en mouvement, me donner une perspective.
Ainsi, quand j'ai besoin de réfléchir, je marche. Et quand j’ai besoin de marcher, je le mets à profit pour réfléchir. Une bonne balade me redonne du sens, de la cohérence, retisse le fil de la réflexion.
Paris est la meilleure ville au monde pour la marche, la mise en mouvement personnelle et historique. Cette ville laisse toujours l’empreinte de sa beauté et de son élégance aux décisions prises et aux actions engagées.
Je voudrais proposer à mes clients l'opportunité de se faire accompagner selon ma pratique personnelle: faire un bout du chemin ensemble – (belle phrase de la RATP).
Voici comment je vous propose de procéder. Envoyez moi une idée, un thème - un mot, 'mousquetaires', fera l'affaire - et je vous renvoie une proposition de balade, de déambulation, de réflexion (carrefour à carrefour) aussi bien que des recommandations, s'il en y a, et mes coordonnées, et mon tarif.
Contactez-moi par mail : email@example.com
Nous ferons un petit entretien téléphonique afin d'établir vos besoins et vos attentes avant de s'engager.
I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark
from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman
THE RULE OF THUMB
Ringfinger was nervous
when they learned
that Hand might succumb
to the rule of Thumb.