This is the third year qarrtsiluni
has run a chapbook contest, with the winning manuscript published by Phoenicia. There are lots of contests out there, some with no reading fee at all (this one costs $11). If poets simply want to be published, there are also a number of chapbook printers now who masquerade as publishers. So why go to the trouble of entering a contest like this one? For one thing, the judging process is completely anonymous. (I know: I'm the contest coordinator!) We receive entries from known poets as well as people who've never submitted before, but all identifying information is stripped out, including acknowledgments, prior publications, biographical information -- even the "created by" tag in the file data is removed. So the judge has no way of knowing who is who, who has a degree, whose manuscript is filled with previously-published poems, and who doesn't but just happens to be a very good poet with something unique to say and an arresting way of saying it.
Second: Our contests typically don't receive hundreds of entries. Your work won't be lost in the shuffle, but read carefully.
And third: your entry fee goes toward the honorarium for the judge (for 2011, that's Luisa Igloria) and the cover artist, and to defray the expenses for review copies and postage. This is a break-even proposition at best, and you can feel positive, knowing that your fee helps support poetry itself. All ten shortlisted poets will receive publicity and publication of some of their works.
In both 2009 and 2010, the contest was won by accomplished but relatively unknown poets. The subsequent publication of their books and the publicity they received, as well as the credit, has helped both of them in their careers. Dave Bonta and I take seriously our role as publishers and promoters of the poets who are chosen for the shortlist and as winners, and we do all we can to get the work out into the world in a beautiful form -- whether that's as printed or online books, or in the audio version -- where it can be read and appreciated. We also try to make the process an enjoyable one for everyone involved.
To all my poet friends: you should seriously consider submitting to this contest. I won this contest last year, and Beth Adams
& Dave Bonta
have have been so awesome that they have ruined me for any other publisher. This year's judge is Luisa Igloria, who won the 2009 Ernest Sandeen Prize in Poetry.
So we hope you will consider entering the 2011 contest; send us your best work, and good luck to all! The deadline is June 15, and all details are here
above: Clayton MichaelsAll Phoenicia's poetry books are on sale through the end of April!like a neil young songEverything sounds sadder in a
reed thin falsetto.
Like a Neil Young song
circa After the Gold Rush
1970 or 72.
The words almost cease to
matter when a voice is
spread that thin.
When with one stray syllable
the entire fragile
dynamic can just dissolve.
Then again, sometimes when it
breaks it can be far more
‘Mellow My Mind’
from Tonight’s the Night
In a reed thin falsetto:
should you ever choose to,
this is how I would like
you to remember me.-Clayton Michaels"Watermark"
Marly Youmans has just published part 1 of a 2 part interview
at her blog, "The House of Words." We talk about the strengths of Phoenicia as a micro-publisher, and what's rewarding about doing this work. To my surprise, Marly has illustrated the interview with some of my own artwork. Thank you, Marly!
We were delighted to read Rachel Barenblat's appreciative review of Ren Powell's "Mercy Island
" today, at her blog The Velveteen Rabbi.Rachel speaks of her appreciation of Ren's poems about growing up, "
childhood, in these poems, isn't necessarily safe" and also mentions her own anguish at reading "
Girl-talk with the Poet from Ramallah" which speaks of horrors endured by a Palestinian girl. But she also writes that the book contains great beauty. At the end of her review, Rachel quotes the first stanza of "View From an Island," the final poem in the book, I am a Russian Dollland within land
and says: "I love the opening couplet with its suggestion that each of us contains multitudes within ourselves. Lichen, heather, craggy beauty, mackerel slapping on the dock: despite all of our human sorrow, these beauties remain... This is a gorgeous collection of poems."
Inheriting the GardenWe promised ourselves we'd plant posiesbut all that time the bed lay barren.It was summer when we moved from that place.And the world seemed filledwith the bursting of dandelions.The former tenants of this house understood seasons:snowdrops, lemoinei, jackmanii --But now, here, in late autumntwo monstrous roses press,vulgar against the kitchen windowpane.And too often at breakfastI find myself holding my breath.from Ren Powell's Mercy Island: New and Selected Poems
From Moira Richards:
Like the ages-old ghazal, of which I counted three in this collection, Ren Powell's poetry evokes musicality and sung lament. Like the couplets of a ghazal, the lines of her poems form discrete, seemingly unconnected units that nevertheless resonate a unity through their juxtapositionings. Like one long ghazal, these poems are all strung together on a refrain; on a recurrence of barely suppressed chaos - nightmare, perhaps; not a spoken refrain, but an unspoken refrain - as if the narrator, only by 'negotiating a new language' is able to speak of the unspeakable, to say the unsayable.
Moira Richards, South African poet and author, is the co-editor of Letters to the World: poems from the Wom-po Listserv, a collection of 259 poets spanning 19 countries and five continents
In the Chicago area? Ren Powell will be reading from her new book "Mercy Island" on Wednesday evening and would love to see you there!
POETRY READING/BOOK SIGNING
Lincoln Township Public Library
7:00PM Wednesday, March 9th
Author Rachel Barenblat will be presenting poems, answering questions, and signing books in the Boston area on March 12th and 13th:
* "Lunch and Learn" reading/discussion after services at Bnai Or, the Jewish Renewal congregation of Boston, March 12 (after services - noonish.) Some poems will be featured during the service as well. All are welcome to attend the service (which will be accessible & engaging) or just to come for the lunch-and-learn; if you can, please let me know if you're planning to come so I can let them know roughly how many visitors to expect! And bring a bag lunch.) Andover Newton Theological School, 210 Herrick Road, Newton Centre.
* Reading/signing in the parlor of the First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington, sponsored by the Jewish Connections group, March 13, 2:30pm. 630 Mass Ave, Arlington Center. (Parking is on the other side of Mass Ave in municipal parking lots -- both directly across Mass Ave and diagonally across the Arlington Center intersection, with an entrance on Route 60/Mystic Street. Parking is free on Sundays.)
One of the most satisfying aspects of editing qarrtsiluni
is that we get to work not only with writers but artists, and to publish their images, building a visual vocabulary that enlarges each issue's theme. This painting, by Welsh artist Clive Hicks-Jenkins, is a modern interpretation of the story of the prophet Elijah being fed by ravens, found in the Bible; it appears in "Words of Power."Dave Bonta and I discuss this painting, the Elijah story it illustrates, and raven behavior in a short podcast along with the original post.
We also talk about other paintings of the same story, particularly this one by British painter Albert Herbert, showing a raven giving a man a host-like piece of bread, and end up with stories of talking crows!
Above: Elijah and the Raven by Albert Charles Herbert (1925-2008)Clive Hicks-Jenkins
) has worked as an actor in film and on TV, and was a highly successful choreographer, director, and stage designer before switching his focus to painting in the mid-90s. He has exhibited regularly with the Attic Gallery in Swansea, the Martin Tinney Gallery in Cardiff, Keith Chapman Modern Art in London, and Anthony Hepworth Fine Art in Bath, and has had well-received exhibitions in public galleries. He has been a member of The Welsh Group since 1997, exhibiting with them throughout Wales, in Scotland, Ireland, France and also in the USA, and 56 Group Wales since 2004. In 2008 he was nominated a Royal Cambrian Academician. After working from a studio in central Cardiff for several years, he recently moved to Mid Wales.
It all depends on where you look.Phoenicia editor and publisher Beth Adams takes a close look at the recently-released statistics on the gender
gap in traditional literary journals vs. online publishing, using qarrtsiluni as an example, on her blog The Cassandra Pages
. The conclusions may surprise you!