I like the company I’m keeping here!
I’ll admit it, I get a little miffed when I see poets telling other poets how they should publish or share their work. That’s kind of a personal thing, if you don’t mind.
When I write poems, it is never with the thought that I’m going to publish this in a major magazine and it is going to be seen by lots of influential people. I don’t care. I write to get these thoughts out of my head, and so that…just maybe…I will choose to show it to someone someday who will understand and say “Hey, me too. I get it.”
I don’t really give a shit if you read my poems in a magazine, in a collection of mine, in an anthology, on a blog, on Facebook, on Twitter, on Tumblr, in a newspaper, scribbled on a cocktail napkin or spray painted in bright orange on the side of a goddamn overpass.
If you need to see it, I have faith that you will see it. One day. Maybe years from when I first wrote it. But I know in my heart that you will see it.
I’m not trying to be the next Bukowski or Plath or Whitman or Sexton. Hell, I’m not trying to be anything except honest.
Why do you care so much if I share my work by using traditional literary avenues or not? Do you have some personal stake in it that I was unaware of? If you like my words, then by all means, please share them. Share them in whichever way you feel you need to. That’s totally your call.
In the meantime, I’ll be over here writing and posting my shit on Facebook, like I do.
I was supposed to post this on the 14th, but I am a scumbag.
I was invited to participate in a virtual blog tour by my friend and fellow poet and editor extraordinaire, Kendall A. Bell:
Kendall A. Bell’s poetry has been widely published in print and online, most recently in First Literary Review-East and Drown In My Own Fears. He was nominated for Sundress Publications’ Best of the Net collection in 2007, 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2013. He is the author of fifteen chapbooks. His most recent chapbook is “Be Mine”. He is the founder and co-editor of the online journal Chantarelle’s Notebook and the publisher/editor of Maverick Duck Press. His website is www.kendallabell.com and his chapbooks are available through www.maverickduckpress.com. He lives in Riverside, New Jersey.
I met Kendall after submitting some of my poems to Chantarelle’s Notebook, the online poetry journal he edits with his wife Christinia, who is also amazing. A month or so later, he asked me to be their featured poet for the month of February. I believe that was back in…2008?
Flash-forward a bit farther in time, and we connected on Facebook and proceeded to have a merry time making fun of bad poetry, sexist pigs, political buffoons and all general forms of millennial douchiness.
He will tell you right off that he feels that his poetry is subpar, but I don’t think he really believes that…and even if he does, well, he is wrong. His poems are simple (not simplistic…don’t get the two confused), beautiful, concise, accessible…and they punch me in the heart, which a lot of the poetry being written today…or at least the poems that are published in popular journals today…just do not do.
Last week, lines from one of his poems were tweeted by Poets House. That, to me, is kind of the equivalent of being poetry royalty. So, his self-doubt can suck my left tit. He is awesome, and you should all know him and his work.
The second part of this blog tour requires me to answer four questions about my work. So, without further ado…here are my answers in all of their awkward, convoluted glory for you to peruse at your leisure:
1.What am I currently working on?
I just put out a call for submissions for an anthology of contemporary West Virginia poetry. I love my home state, and I feel that it often gets a bad rap and is unfairly stereotyped. I have been lucky enough to connect with some amazing poets and writers over the past several years, and I know for a fact that the Mountain State is home to some incredibly talented people. I want to share their work with the world.
On a more personal level, I’m working on a series of poems about the Hatfield and McCoy feud. I’m a big history buff, and I love mixing history and art. I’m even planning a weekend trip to the Tug Fork region of West Virginia and Kentucky in the fall. I’m pretty excited about the whole thing.
2.How does my work differ from others of its genre?
This is a hard one to answer. Maybe the best answer is that I wrote these poems…not someone else. I’ve been told that my work differs from the work of “traditional” women poets. I don’t really know what that means. I guess, depending upon who you ask, that could be a good thing or a bad thing.
I cuss a lot, I drink sometimes, and I have sex. And I write about it. Didn’t Bukowski do that, too?
I fail at answering this question.
3.Why do I write/create what I do?
I have a tendency to replay significant memories over and over in my head, like a loop of film…or a haunting. Sometimes those moments are heart-breaking or beautiful or a combination of the two. Most of the time, I write to get these things out of my head. I feel a lot saner when I write and share poems. The reactions I get to my work let me know that I am not alone in my experiences, that my feelings are valid and not as crazy as I had thought. Also, I’ll admit that I get a thrill when someone tells me that a poem moved them deeply or gave them goosebumps. That’s not the main reason that I do what I do, but it’s a pretty good perk.
4. How does your writing/creating process work?
I don’t have a routine or anything. I’m not very disciplined, to be perfectly honest. There are times when I will go weeks or months without writing anything. I like to fill that downtime up with new hobbies or trips to places I’ve never been before. I think there comes a point when you’ve emptied yourself so much that the words just don’t come anymore, so you have to fill yourself back up with new experiences or you’ll just keep writing the same things over and over.
Sometimes I meet an interesting person or I read something that gets me thinking. The wheels start turning, and before I know it, I’m awake in the middle of the night and scribbling in a notebook. Most of the time, though, lines of poems come to me when I’m in the shower…or cooking. That happens a lot. Usually, it’s the last lines that hit me first and I build around that.
I try to present myself as a person who values order, but really…I’m a mess. Order and structure is what makes for good editing. Chaos cuts the rough poem-y diamond out of the rock. Editing makes it shine.
Then we make commitments and it all goes to shit.
Not really. :)
I was supposed to choose 3 other artists to participate with me in the blog tour, but unfortunately the artists I contacted either a) didn’t respond or b) don’t have a traditional blog. But, hey, I’m not going to complain about it, because arty people are flighty and chaotic and yet often still manage to be amazing, wonderful people.
After all, my blog post was late. I am a scumbag. But I like to think that I am a lovable scumbag.
I have a new poem, “We Walk”, up today at Beakful.
Also, I was given the amazing opportunity to write an introduction to Stale Angst, a collection of poems by young up-and-coming poet, Daniel N. Flanagan, which will be available from mgv2publishing in July.
Big thanks to editor Walter Rhulmann for the opportunity. His never-ending patience with me and my chronic scatter-brain is pretty damn amazing.
I was looking back through some of my old entries, and I realized how little I blog these days. I’ve been through the ringer lately, dealing with a family illness, losing and finding work, finishing school… and although the journey of these last few months has been inspiring, I would much rather be laying on a tropical island beach someplace and drinking margaritas.
Anyway, happy Solstice!
Here’s to new and wonderful beginnings!
I found out this evening that all 6 of my submitted pieces have been accepted for publication by the editors of Words Dance for inclusion in their inaugural volume of Literary Sexts…a collection of short, sexy love poems with subtle erotic undertones.
They are still accepting submissions until January 10th!
This is seriously the best thing ever: Women Poets Wearing Sweatpants.
I’m hanging out there today, along with some other talented lady poets. Also, I hate pants and declined to wear any. Actually, I hate all clothing, so everyone is pretty much lucky that I put on a shirt…
You are the man
who buys me a drink at every bar
and smiles his secrets at me
from across a crowded room.
You are the bones of coal miners
buried deep inside a devil’s furnace
of earth and rock, and
the daughters who are left behind,
on their knees, spilling tears
into the ground.
And, despite what you may think,
I don’t care if you are half-lit
and rowdy and your Saturday nights
are a run-on sentence punctuated
with bullet holes and broken mailboxes.
I don’t care if you are too busy
carrying on with your redneck buddies, too busy
shooting out street lights to notice
the new dress I’m wearing or the shine
of tears in my eyes. I am
standing in the doorway screaming don’t leave me
even with your hands wrapped around my throat.
I still tell everyone that you are beautiful
as if I, too, need to hear those words
echo through the valley
of awkward silence
like an explosion from a ruptured gas line.
You are trash bags and beer bottles
piled in the roadside ditches.
You are the smell of sulfur and rotted meat
But you are also the soft brush strokes
of aurora borealis against
a coal-black mountaintop sky
and forests full of deer and black bear
and the rough, gentle hands
of honest men.
Never let them tell you
you are not a maverick, West Virginia.
You ARE America.
You are freedom and honey
and country roads
leading me home
when I feel empty as a dried-up well
and have forgotten who I am
and why I keep on living
even when my heart is split down its center
like the seam of a mountain
about to be blasted wide open.
I am the canary who will sing for you
even when the world grows dark
and heavy and airless
as a collapsed mine shaft.
And I’ll be goddamned if they ever
shut me up.
This is my very, VERY rough work of the day. There is so much I could add to this…haha!
When my father died,
I did not sleep for 3 days.
At 19, I believed that boys who smelled
like campfires and peppermint or oceans
would make the best lovers.
I wasn’t wrong.
I learned to hunt
because I was hungry.
I killed a kitten once.
It was an accident. I swear.
I fell in love with New Orleans in a single night,
its jazz musicians and beignets and trolleys,
its gas lamps and tombs and voodoo
and shadowed doorways,
its dirty streets and fish stink.
We still talk. It’s awkward.
I’ve had an abortion
and have never regretted it.
Sometimes, I lie
just to see what will happen.
I had sex with a handsome
blond tour guide in Amsterdam. Afterward,
he slipped a yellow tulip
into my bag, his name
and phone number written
across the petals in black ink. I never called.
I never cheated on my husband.
But I wanted to.
I sleep so much
because it is easier
than writing poetry.
I write poetry
because it is easier
than making eye contact.
I wanted to post something new and “rough” today. So, here it is:
An Inventory of Lost Things
my car keys
a silver lighter, a pack of cigarettes
a pair of lacy black panties
in the backseat of a blue Chevrolet
a bottle of perfume
a love letter from a dead boyfriend
that still smelled like the echo of his cologne
countless notebooks full
of brilliant poems
my father’s red handkerchief
my mother’s gold ring
after three glasses of red wine
in an airport bathroom
a tube of the most perfect red lipstick
your phone number
a velvet bag of guitar picks
a Joan Jett CD
the will to live
the complete poems of Sylvia Plath
a contact lens on a bus in San Pedro
a lover in Portland
a pack of gum
on a New York City subway train
a chance to say goodbye
a chance to say I love you
eighty pounds of ugly fat
my fear of crowded places
two dogs to bone cancer
a pet turtle
the only photo of you and I
a fistful of laundry quarters
my favorite childhood toy
those sweet words you whispered
into my ear when you thought I was sleeping
all my colored socks
my favorite pen
a pair of black cowboy boots
my goddamn mind