Three new poems + catching my breath

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Over the summer I started making a real effort to send poems out to journals again, and I was pleased to find new journals with a cool aesthetic, including Grimoire. I have three new poems in the current issue of Grimoire, with awesome company. What an honor!

I could hang out with the words and images over at Grimoire for days. They even have a Spotify channel. I feel like this magazine is a retroactive gift to my wee goth self of yesteryear, sitting in workshops in my Skinny Puppy t-shirt and black lipstick. Where have you been all my life, Grimoire?

These three poems are from a couple of different projects (including a very new one), so it’s exciting and terrifying for me to find them hanging out together. Seeing poems in print makes them feel real in a way that’s different from peering at them in your own folders.

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I’m still in a tizzy over our National Book Awards news at the UA Press. I am not used to being around so many flowers. I’m excited to attend the ceremony, even if it means wearing a legit evening gown. I guess, if all else fails, I can default to something goth.

September drifts in with new poems

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First, a little accountability. At the end of last academic year I vowed to get my act together in terms of sending poems out to journals. So many other commitments were getting in the way of it, along with a heavy dose of self-doubt.

I’m happy to say that even though I did not succeed in becoming totally organized with my archives, I did undertake a flurry of revisions, and I sent work out, and now I have poems hot off the press and forthcoming and it feels good. I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish this without the help of my dear friend and poet Julie Brooks Barbour, who offered excellent suggestions and much needed encouragement. Having someone to share your drafts with can make all the difference, especially if you usually keep your work to yourself. Thank you so much, Julie!

I’m excited to share a few of the new poems that have found homes. “Emerging Leader” and “Unstable Systems” are part of the debut issue of Gold Wake Live. I’ve long admired the books from Gold Wake, and I’m honored to have poems appear in its first volume.

The prose poem “Trouble Shirt,” from my manuscript called Partial Genius, is over at Border Crossing. What a beautiful issue! So many excellent contributors in both of these journals.

As the picture above shows, we’re back to school here at the University of Akron and NEOMFA program. One week in, and I’m happy and exhausted all at once, which is my favorite feeling. I sense another manuscript taking shape, but right now I’m going to focus on revision and submissions and letting the new poems drift in, as they do.

Best wishes to all who are back to school, or sending out work, or both.

Summertime rolls

IMG_6044As hoped, summer has brought new poems along with it, and I’ve managed to read and to send work out, even though it feels like I’ve had to fight for every minute.

I’m happy to say that new poems are coming out in Diode, Grimoire, and the debut issue of Gold Wake Live. I’ve got a bunch of poems simmering out there at various journals, too.

Once I got over the fear of submitting (not sure how or why that developed) it became so much easier to get the packets out.

This summer I’ve seen several lakes. Sometimes new poems and lakes are all that you can hope for in a summer.

A Czar is born.

Unboxing The Czar was extra emotional because it’s Jay’s first book. It was also impossible to do just the perfunctory flip-through with this book, because it’s pretty funny, and I found myself reading it again (and again) at odd moments when I should have been doing something else. The Czar is about a lot of things: a hyperbolically ridiculous fictional figurehead, the white noise of our present day, sexy underpants and odd recipes, family histories we might be best to forget, pop culture and its trash.

I think this book shows that collaboration can create something entirely new, not just a fusion of narratives and styles. Maybe that’s why I am so damn proud of this one. We took some risks, and let the book lead the way. I hope readers enjoy The Czar!

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On THE CZAR:
The poems of The Czar by Mary Biddinger and Jay Robinson stand at the intersection of ironic political commentary and hyperbolized body currency. In the world of this collection, the Czar is a figurehead replete with ceremony and artificial gestures. But is he provocative humor or allegorical heft? And what happens when power is passed to the powerless in a secret handshake that’s more tongue on tongue than tongue-in-cheek? This book-length collaboration pivots between comic interludes and satirical exposés, at its heart the rhythm of the present tense, history’s most unreliable narrator no matter the king or kingdom.

Must be the summer of The Czar

July IMG_3593already? Soon we’ll be proofing pages of The Czar, and I’ll be getting the Akron Poetry Prize finalists off to the judge, and then: czar watch. The birth of The Czar is especially exciting because it’s Jay‘s first book. The unboxing will be even more meaningful.

My summer World Lit class was a true delight (what a brilliant bunch of readers and thinkers). It seems like I enjoy teaching more and more with every class. As of this fall semester, it’ll be my 20th year of teaching college English. So happy that I am nowhere near disenchanted after all this time.

Goals: once I’ve read these manuscripts (468 total) I need to write some poems and send them out. I need to revise some poems I’ve already written, and to send them out. Here and there I have been making notes for poems, but soon I need to write those poems.

Over at Twitter I’ve been posting a poetry prompt every Wednesday. Friends and students and former students often ask me for prompts over the summer, so I decided to make it a #summerofprompts feature for everyone to check out. Here’s a sample.

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Happy July to all! Maybe next week I’ll have a sneak peek at the first pages for The Czar. There’s nothing like the excitement of bringing a new book into the world.

Small Enterprise is Born.

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IMG_1040After a long day of teaching, I didn’t expect this box on my doorstep, and for a moment I thought I should wait until morning to unbox Small Enterprise, but then realized I’d be up all night wondering what she looked like. I have so much gratitude to Black Lawrence Press, photographer Heidi Thoenen, and many more folks. But for this morning, I just want to share two photos welcoming my 4th book to the world.

Back to Work.

IMG_0886Even though it ended on a high note, with the restoration of the University of Akron Press, I’m glad to kick August to the curb and get back to work. Akron Poetry Prize stuff! Two excellent classes (one world poetry, one an MFA class on first books)! Plenty of student questions to answer! Once again I am taking far too much time writing, revising, and over-honing my syllabi. But what would a new semester be without all that?

In terms of my own poems, I’m still waiting. I can be patient. Last week we got to announce the good news about The Czar, and any day now Small Enterprise will roll off the press. Nothing against the desolation of the marshes and woods, but I rather like being able to talk to people again.

Reflective overload.

IMG_0764One nice thing about August is that it hasn’t been dull. I’ve been both “off” from work and working the full time job of responding to messages. Every small thing (and not-small thing, as in back to school shopping for two kids) seems like a miracle when it’s finally done.

I’ve been trying to spend as much time in nature as possible. I recommend it.

Otherwise, I am looking forward to getting back in the classroom, and to the arrival of Small Enterprise, which has been overshadowed by dramatic recent events. Also: new poems. Come on, new poems.