Category Archives: Poetry

It’s Here! It’s Here!

The winter issue of Menacing Hedge is out at last, and it features one of my latest short stories, “New Skin.” Check it out now 🙂

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Flower Still Life
Flower Still Life; Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder, Dutch, 1573 – 1621; 1614; Oil on copper; Unframed: 30.5 x 38.9 cm (12 x 15 5/16 in.), Framed: 47 x 55.2 x 4.4 cm (18 1/2 x 21 3/4 x 1 3/4 in.); 83.PC.386

Here are just a few of my personal favorites from this issue:

  • Jen Stein’s prose poem “Hiraeth” (look up the definition of the title if you don’t already know what it means; it’s absolutely perfect!)

The Poetry Problem

For all the poets out there!

Editors' Blog!

magnetic fridge poetryHEY POETS, did you know that your spacing decisions can affect your chances of being published successfully in online literary magazines?
Most writers, poets included, create and distribute their work on word processing software such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs. It’s what we’ve always done. These programs are great for viewing work on our computers and for making print-outs, but they don’t play well with online publishing platforms like WordPress (on which our site is built), Drupal, Joomla, and others.

This is a software and design problem that many poets are unaware of. And it could be the reason certain poems you submit to online publications are rejected or end up being published in a different-looking format from what you intended.

What’s this ‘white space a problem’? The word processing programs we writers use to create poems make it easy for us to spread text across a page, just as we used to do on a typewriter. Just tap the space…

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The Poet, the Spider, & God

As many of you know, I rarely post or re-blog anything with a religious theme or bent here on Writing Reconsidered, but this article I wrote for the Living Our Faith blog is one I’m particularly pleased with.

In the crazy rush of the first days of NaNoWriMo 2015 (not to mention the crazy rush that is November generally: projects coming due, Thanksgiving and family coming to call, the upcoming wilds of winter), this article captures a moment of poetry-inspired peacefulness that I wanted to share.

Happy Writing!

Living Our Faith: St. Paul's Episcopal Church

I have long been a dedicated reader of Wendell Berry, both his poetry and his essays, and often turn to his work whenever I feel a struggle in my soul for a moment of peace and wilderness.

His poem “The Peace of Wild Things,” especially, has always held tremendous power for me:

When despair for the world grows in me

and I wake in the night at the least sound

in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,

I go and lie down where the wood drake

rests in his beauty on the water …

Poetry in general holds a great deal of the stuff of God for me, reminding me to be mindful, present, and appreciative as I move through a world filled with the Creator’s wonder and mystery.

The Bible itself—like many sacred texts from around the world—is packed with poetry, from the psalms to…

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A Schedule of Poetry Chapbook Contests

Thank you, Drugstore Notebook, for sharing this list!

The Drugstore Notebook

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As I am finally feeling ready to send out a small collection of my recent work for publication, I’ve been on the hunt for as many poetry chapbook contests as I can find. The good news is that there are many. The bad news is that they all charge. Even those that “don’t” require you to buy a book from their catalogue.

I have to admit that I am not altogether against these charges though, especially when payment buys you a poetry book. How else are these small presses going to survive? From the throngs of people lining up to buy poetry books written by unknown authors? Unlikely. But, I

It is up to us writers of poetry to not only support small presses, but also to promote our work as best we can so that if and when we do get published, our books sell.

So, for all writers of…

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Punctuating Yeats and reading writers’ minds

Sentence first

‘Yeats’s handwriting resembles a mouse’s electrocardiogram,’ writes the late Daniel Albright in his preamble to the marvellous Everyman Library edition of W. B. Yeats’ Poems, which he edited.

Albright goes on to give a similarly forthright account of the poet’s spelling and punctuation, excerpted below. While acknowledging his debt to Richard Finneran, who oversaw a different collection of Yeats’s poems, Albright parts company from him in two ways:

First, he is more respectful of Yeats’s punctuation than I. He supposes […] that Yeats’s punctuation was rhetorical rather than grammatical, an imaginative attempt to notate breath-pauses, stresses, and so forth; and that the bizarre punctuation in some of Yeats’s later poems is due to the influence of experimental modernists such as T.S. Eliot and Laura Riding. I suppose that Yeats was too ignorant of punctuation to make his deviations from standard practice significant. Although Yeats surely wished to make his…

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William S. Burroughs Turns 101

For those of you who don’t know, today is William S. Burroughs’ 101st Birthday. Burroughs was a weird-tastic writer, weird even for the Beats who prided themselves on living at the edges and in the in-betweens of things. Burroughs, however–in addition to being a wealthy eccentric, addict, and artist–was also a murderer, having killed Joan Vollmer, poet and wife to Burroughs.

Here are a few basics about Burroughs:

  • “The author of books like Junky,Queer, and Naked Lunch, Burroughs forged the cornerstone of a modern American cultural movement with Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and other visionary writers and artists. His buttoned-up, three-piece exterior cloaked a dark genius that hungered for hustlers and heroin — way back in the 1940s.” (Flavorwire)
  • William S. Burroughs was born on February 5, 1914 in St. Louis, MO, and died on August 2, 1997 in Lawrence, KS.
  • “He always wrote in tones of spooky authority—a comic effect, given that most of his characters are, in addition to being gaudily depraved, more or less conspicuously insane. Naked Lunch is less a novel than a grab bag of friskily obscene comedy routines—least forgettably, an operating-room Grand Guignol conducted by an insouciant quack, Dr. Benway. ‘Well, it’s all in a day’s work,’ Benway says, with a sigh, after a patient fails to survive heart massage with a toilet plunger.” (The New Yorker, “Outlaw: The Extraordinary Life of William S. Burroughs,”  Peter Schjeldahl)
  • “I started to write in about 1950; I was thirty-five at the time; there didn’t seem to be any strong motivation. I simply was endeavoring to put down in a more or less straightforward journalistic style something about my experiences with addiction and addicts.” — William S. Burroughs, interviewed by Conrad Knickerbocker, The Paris Review
  • “Burroughs hadn’t always intended to be a man of letters. An heir to the Burroughs Adding Machine Company, he initially studied medicine at Harvard before falling into the group of misfit writers who eventually evolved into “The Beats.” Though Burroughs said his work had little in common stylistically with fellow Beats Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg, he credits their encouragement in helping him get started.” (NPR Books, “Burroughs’ Naked Lunch, Still Fresh at 50,” Tom Vitale)
  • “Burroughs, who died in 1997 at the age of 83, was living at the time in Lawrence, Kan., where he settled in the 1980s; Ginsberg had come to participate in a sweat lodge ceremony to exorcise ‘the ugly spirit,’ a possessing force Burroughs felt had influenced, among other tragedies, the accidental shooting death of his common-law wife, Joan Vollmer, in Mexico City in 1951.” (Poetry Foundation, David L. Ulin quoted in “Burroughs and Ginsberg at the sweat lodge,” Harriet Staff)
  • “Scholars [have] commented on Burroughs’ paranoid, futuristic voice, his connection with Beat generation writers … and his noted drug habits, all of which, along with his privileged background, make up his public face. They also [speak] matter-of-factly about his shooting and killing his wife Joan Vollmer, as though it was just one more eccentric, quirky footnote in the life of a ‘great writer.’ … Anyone concerned at all about domestic violence might find it chilling that this homicide, which Burroughs committed publicly in Mexico before returning to the US to escape legal repercussions, has been woven into his public legend in a way that enhances, rather than detracts from, his mystique.” (Bitch Magazine, “A Great Artist Kills His Wife–Now She’s Just a Quirky Footnote in His History,” Leela Ginelle)

If you’re interested in learning more about Burroughs and/or Vollmer, be sure to check out:

Related Videos:

Also, if you’re interested in learning more about the Beats, here’s a final shameless plug: check out my book, The Trickster in Ginsberg: A Critical Reading

978-0-7864-6469-2

Happy Birthday, Langston Hughes!

For those of you who don’t know, today is Langston Hughes’ 113th Birthday! 

Hughes is one of my all-time favorite writers, and so I wanted to make sure and dedicate some thoughts to him today.

Here are a few basics about Hughes:

‘Always intensely subjective, passionate, keenly sensitive to beauty and possessed of an unfaltering musical sense, Langston Hughes has given us a ‘first book’ that marks the opening of a career well worth watching.’

(Poetry Foundation, “Langston Hughes”)

If you’re interested in learning more about Hughes, or in reading any of his articles, poetry, or prose, be sure to check out:

Some of Hughes’ books:

Related Videos: