Forays into Travel Writing

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I love to travel, and have been traveling every chance I get since my undergraduate years, so I don’t have a lack of material to draw from. I enjoy writing prompts because they focus me and get me really thinking. When I started travel writing, I didn’t think I would be able to remember enough details from my trips to write a whole essay, but the more I thought about them, the more the memories came rushing back. Also, I had taken some notes in journals on each of my trips, and while I now wish I had written down more, what was there was a help. I don’t know why I had not even thought to look back and read over those journals before now. Those helped me remember more of my internal reflections rather than just the external of what happened. This also brought more memories to the forefront of my mind.

Places I’ve Traveled and Wrote, or want to Write About

  • Stratford, Ontario, Canada
  • Tesuque Pueblo, New Mexico
  • Dachau, Germany
  • Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • Dublin, Ireland
  • Antrim, N. Ireland
  • Ankara, Turkey
  • Couva, Trinidad & Tobago
  • Sofia, Bulgaria
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Cats and Writers

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A catless writer is almost inconceivable. It's a perverse taste, really, since it would be easier to write with a herd of buffalo in the room than even one cat; they make nests in the notes and bite the end of the pen and walk on the typewriter keys. ~Barbara Holland


A dog, I have always said, is prose; a cat is a poem. ~Jean Burden


In ancient times cats were worshipped as gods; they have not forgotten this. ~Terry Pratchett

I wish I could write as mysterious as a cat. ~Edgar Allan Poe


Authors like cats because they are such quiet, lovable, wise creatures, and cats like authors for the same reasons. ~Robertson Davies

What greater gift than the love of a cat? ~Charles Dickens

Cats are dangerous companions for writers because cat watching is a near-perfect method of writing avoidance. ~Dan Greenburg



Prizes for Women Writers

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Attention Women Writers

A Room of Her Own

Orlando Prizes

http://www.aroomofherownfoundation.org/orlando.php
Award: $1000 and online publication for the best unpublished work by a woman in each of
four genres-Short Fiction, Sudden Fiction, Nonfiction, and Poetry.  Winning entries will receive publication on AROHO’s website.
Online Application Deadline: 2/28/2010 For all genres.
Fee: $15 per entry (payable via Paypal)

To the Lighthouse Poetry Publication Prize

http://www.aroomofherownfoundation.org/To_the_Lighthouse.php
Award: $1000 for best unpublished poetry collection by a woman, and publication by Red Hen Press.
Postmark Deadline: August 31, 2010
Page limit: 48 to 96 pages
Fee: $20 per entry

Please visit the website at www.aroomofherownfoundation.org for Prize instructions and details.

Calyx

CALYX, A Journal of Art and Literature by Women

The ninth annual 2010 Lois Cranston Memorial Poetry Prize

Final Judge: Frances P. Adler

Submission dates:  March 1, 2010, through May 31, 2010 (Postmarked dates)
Prize:  Winner will receive $300 cash award and publication in CALYX Journal (Vol. 24:2, Winter 2011). The winner and all finalists will receive a one-volume subscription, and all their poems will be published on CALYX’s website (www.calyxpress.org).
Details: Each entry can include up to three (3) unpublished poems, no more than six (6) manuscript pages total. Do not put your name on the same page as a poem; all entries are read blind. Include a separate cover letter with name, address, phone, email, and titles of poem/s. No manuscripts will be returned. Please send unpublished work and please do not send simultaneous submissions. The Journal Editorial Collective reads manuscripts first, then selects 15-20 to send to the final judge. Judge’s decisions are final.
Reading fee:  $15 per entry, all checks in U.S. currency on a U.S. bank, checks payable to CALYX.
Notification:  Contest winner and finalists will be notified by October 30, 2010, and announced on CALYX’s website, www.calyxpress.org. All entrants will receive prize results, and U.S. entrants will receive an issue of CALYX Journal in October 2010.

Send submission to:
CALYX, Inc.
Lois Cranston Poetry Prize
PO Box B
Corvallis OR 97339

Frances P. Adler is the author of five books: two poetry collections, Making of a Matriot (Red Hen Press, 2003), and Raising The Tents (Calyx Books, 1993), three collaborative poetry-photography books, and is the co-editor of Fire and Ink: An Anthology of Social Action Writing (University of Arizona Press, Fall 2009). Adler’s poems and prose have appeared in Poetry International, Calyx, Counterpunch, Bridges, Ms. Magazine, The Progressive, Foreign Policy in Focus, and The Congressional Record, among others. Her awards include a California State Senate Award for Artistic and Social Collaboration, an NEA Regional Award, and the Obama New Millennium Award. Adler is a professor of creative writing at California State University Monterey Bay, and founder of their Creative Writing and Social Action Program

Lois Cranston was an editor for CALYX Journal for more than ten years. Her remarkable life experiences and knowledge of literature enriched the editorial collective and the journal issues she helped edit. This poetry prize in her name honors the memory of her commitment to the creative work of women from all walks of life.

Submissions Tracker

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(click to enlarge)

My least favorite part about publishing poetry is sending out submissions! Unfortunately, it does not do it itself, as much as I have hoped this would happen. I have created my own submissions tracker in order to keep track of the process. It is very important, no matter what system you use, to keep track of submissions. Especially if you begin doing simultaneous submissions. Most venues accept simultaneous submissions as long as they are marked as such, and are immediately notified if a piece gets accepted elsewhere. That is just good manners, but without some kind of system, it may be hard to remember who to notify.

it's hard work submitting to online litmags, but somebody's got to do it

My system makes use of an excel spreadsheet with two tabs. The first tab is for the actual submissions, and includes the titles of the pieces submitted, where they were submitted to, the date submitted, expected response time, and then a record of if the piece was accepted or rejected and any relevant comments/feedback. The second tab is a list of possible places to submit to, which can be sorted by deadline date. Also included, is a column to indicate poems that may fit with each title. It is important to research where you are going to submit to, so you know what kind of work they tend to publish and don’t waste their time or yours. The best way to do this is by reading the actual magazines, but most magazines at least provide sample work from the latest or archived issues on their website, and reading these is a good start.

Two of my favorite places to find titles to investigate are the New Pages Guide to Best Lit Mags and Duotrope’s Digest. Duotrope also has a free online submissions tracker you can use.

Words and Pictures

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painting by moshe sherman

It started with the collaborative poetry and visual art project I began with my friend and painter, Moshe Sherman. I wrote poems based on his art, he drew sketches based on my poems, and some we just created in the same space as each other. An extension of this project found me recruiting various friends to write out my poems by hand.

A couple years later, I had the idea to incorporate the text directly into the artwork, and began my text-based art projects. I wanted the poems to be as much a visual art as a literary art. I am still developing these, but one project included a poem written on lottery tickets hanging from a stick (hard to describe), and one of Moshe’s drawings blown up 16 x it’s size with my poem it was based on written within the drawing.

More recently, I took back up calligraphy, and have been incorporating that and other handwritten typography/fonts.  My latest ventures in this area includes putting my poetry in calligraphy over top of my mixed media collages. I am not sure what my ultimate goal is. I just like to blur the lines between genres, I am interested in more than one medium myself, and it provides another way of looking at things. Does anyone have any links of people doing similar things? I am sort of up a creek without a paddle on this, and I don’t want to reinvent the wheel. (How’s that for a mixed metaphor?)

In my art, as in life, two or more seemingly opposing ideas or images are held close together and exist as one poem. I make use of this to make social commentary, to show the human impact on the world, and to illustrate the complexities of all relationships. I question social morès and norms. I don’t shy away from racial, ethnic, class, and gender issues. My art tries to raise the importance and awareness of the mundane. It tries to bring a focus to single moments in time. It also tries to be an affirmation of life. It does this by remaining grounded in the concrete and in the present, and by narrowing the lens of specificity. My work should have a sense of urgency and be immediate and approachable.

My style is fluid, collaborative, often rooted in story, and at times experimental. A common thread in my work is my quirkiness. Like the subjects and media I juxtapose, I also juxtapose tone. My art can be humorous at the same time as being serious, even tragic. My quirkiness serves a greater purpose, illustrates connections and the beauty of the world.

As Adam Zagajewski says in his famous poem, we must praise the mutilated world. My art beseeches for a deeper understanding of ourselves and others, and an open mind. It questions assumptions and provokes discourse. I try to transform the ordinary to the extraordinary for my audience, because, in my mind, these everyday things are already extraordinary.

In my art, as in life, two or more seemingly opposing ideas or images are held close together and exist as one poem. I make use of this to make social commentary, to show the human impact on the world, and to illustrate the complexities of all relationships. I question social morès and norms. I don’t shy away from racial, ethnic, class, and gender issues. My art tries to raise the importance and awareness of the mundane. It tries to bring a focus to single moments in time. It also tries to be an affirmation of life. It does this by remaining grounded in the concrete and in the present, and by narrowing the lens of specificity. My work should have a sense of urgency and be immediate and approachable.

My style is fluid, collaborative, often rooted in story, and at times experimental. A common thread in my work is my quirkiness. Like the subjects and media I juxtapose, I also juxtapose tone. My art can be humorous at the same time as being serious, even tragic. My quirkiness serves a greater purpose, illustrates connections and the beauty of the world.

As Adam Zagajewski says in his famous poem, we must praise the mutilated world. My art beseeches for a deeper understanding of ourselves and others, and an open mind. It questions assumptions and provokes discourse. I try to transform the ordinary to the extraordinary for my audience, because, in my mind, these everyday things are already extraordinary.

Why I Write

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My writing is a searching, an exploring to see what comes out. I don’t feel like I can take complete credit for my writing, because at its best, it feels more like it comes through me rather than from me. It is simultaneously the easiest and the hardest thing I ever do. Easy, because the meaning seems just there, ready to be put on paper. Hard, because I am charged with finding the language and structure and word choice to make sense of it.

It was easier to believe I had less control with my fiction. In college I studied fiction, and most of what I learned about poetry was done on my own, as my professors all focused in fiction or non fiction. In fiction, I followed the characters where they needed to be. It took me a while to realize that the poem needs to be also. I have to follow where it is striving to go. Once I let go of the idea that I was in control, I could focus on the craft and metaphor and sound and structure and revision to frame the meaning. Because, when it worked, I was bringing together the seemingly incongruent, the seemingly juxtaposable, and finding, indeed making meaning.

I like it when a reader has a sort of epiphany when reading my work, that this idea or concept makes perfect sense and that maybe a part of them had known it all along. Even if the reader doesn’t agree with the message of my poem, I want them to see where I am coming from and be challenged to examine things for themselves rather than accepting the packaged meaning the world hands to them, tied in a bow.