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Category: poetry

On Crayolas: a lifelong literary device (for me, anyway)

I’ve made no bones about the fact that I grew up poor. Not in the “we were poor, but we didn’t know we were poor” kind of way. I knew we were poor, and one of the first things that clued me in were Crayola crayons. Over the years I’ve described my hangup about Crayola crayons to anyone who would listen, and more than a handful of them laughed at me for it. I’m not sure what grade it was, but I have a distinct and vivid memory of walking into class with my 24-box of Rose Arts, the bare minimum laid out by the teacher’s supply list, and seeing someone else’s 64-box with  the built in sharpener on the back and feeling instantly jealousy. It’s one of the earliest symbols of class that I remember feeling. Little did I know at the time that the 64-box of Crayolas isn’t that much more expensive than the inferior Rose Arts, and that everyone else in my school was poor, too. Why else would anyone live in a town with a $17,000 median income?

It was such a vivid memory and powerful feeling that I wrote a poem about it, a poem that was published in Clackamas Literary Review a few years ago. I still think of it as one of my best bodies of work, despite the fact that it’s, ostensibly, just a poem about Crayola crayons.

Last week the office where I rock my day job hosted a school supply drive for needy children. Austin has its fair share of them, particularly in East Austin where there is a large Hispanic population. I love shopping for school supplies as an adult because I get to indulge in the kinds of things I never got to as a poor kid – Lisa Frank folders, pens that write in 12 colors, and of course, Crayola crayons. Naturally, I chose the 64-box of Crayolas as my school supply donation of choice. They still brand the built-in sharpener, but thanks to advances in technology they also have codes you can scan from the box to create coloring book pages from pictures on your phone, and other apps that I fully intend on exploring as an adult with the power to buy my own goddamn crayons.

I may have hangups about Crayola crayons for the rest of my life, but hopefully there are six kids in Austin who will feel like some serious high cotton thanks to my ability to buy a $4.99 box of crayons. If you’ve never seen the poem, check it out here, because I’m not kidding when I say it’s one of my favorite (and, I think, best) works.

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New poem up: The Day Grandpa Taught Me to Drive

I struggled with the format to use to capture this powerful memory that has stuck with me to this day. I finally landed on prose poem after simple prose proved too loose a structure for the subject matter and traditional poetry proved too tight. But the important thing to me is just that I was able to get it down in such a way that did honor to the memory of this event (and my grandfather).

Because I needed the title to indicate what the prose poem was about, you can enjoy a poem entitled “The Day Grandpa Taught Me to Drive.”

Check it out HERE.

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New poem up: Home

I’m still finding it difficult to accept the truth of the Julian calendar, but it tells me that it is, in fact, November. Part of the reason I find this so shocking is because the month of September was such a whirlwind for me. We took a road trip to my hometown for a camping trip on Labor Day weekend, and a couple weekends later, I found myself flying to the town where I was born for my grandmother’s funeral. Being to three of the places you’ve called “home” in your life in less than 30 days can really mess with your head and stir up a lot of emotions, and that’s what inspired my latest poem.

It’s called Home, and you can read it HERE.

 

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I got my contributor copy… 3.5 years later

I’ve blogged several times about the issue of Clackamas Literary Review that I was recently published in – a publication timeline that looked a lot like this:

October 2009: I submit 3 poems via snail mail with a good ole SASE.

February 2010: Clackamas accepts 2 of my poems for publication in their 2010 issue.

November 2011: I receive word the issue is going to drop publication any day.

February 2012: I once again receive word the issue is going to be published soon, and that I will receive 7 contributor copies instead of 2, and that I can purchase copies for $5.

March 2013: 2010 issue is published, with promise of shipment for 7 contributor copies, which I do not receive.

September 2013: Tired of waiting, I order my own copy for about $10. Thanks, Amazon Prime!

As publication timelines go, this is a crappy one. Despite the long bouts of miscommunication and having to buy my own copy for full price, there truly is n substitute for the feeling you get when you see your work printed on the pages of what has historically been a very highly acclaimed publication, even if the publication management leaves a thing or two to be desired.

Was it worth it? To be honest, had I known it would take more than 3 years to publish, I might have pulled my poems from consideration after the first unanswered email from the Editor in Chief. Sometimes, though, you just have to stick it out and hope that things eventually pay off. And, even though I had to buy my own copy, I can look on the bright side knowing that my money is going to a graduate writing program that is probably suffering the same kind of fate graduate writing programs are facing all over the country.

And if I do eventually receive my 7 contributors copies, you can bet I’ll be sending a copy to the guy who told me one of the poems in it was “desperate and whiny”.

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Those poems I had accepted 3 years ago? Finally in print!

215311_10200854804393258_414926138_nIn the before time, the long long ago (circa Feb 2010), Kelly I. Hitchcock had her first two poems accepted for publication by Clackamas Literary Review. These poems were Crayola Caste System and Skipping Stones. Many moons passed and Kelly began to wonder when the journal would be published and whether she should start sending some of her work to other journals. After all, this was one of those ancient texts which operate on mailed in submissions and federal grant funding. She at one point even used a telephone device to contact the Clackamas English department after several electronic mail pony expresses went unanswered; she just wanted to know if and when the fruits of her labor would appear on the page of this mysterious volume.

Well, just three short years later, that day is finally here. As of May 2013, the 2010 edition (I know, right?) of Clackamas Literary Review is finally published, along with the two poems that were accepted all those years ago. You can even purchase it on this newfangled thing called Amazon.

Okay, I poke fun a little bit. It’s certainly a poorly kept secret that the publishing industry is slow-ass-slow. Even so, a three year publication timeline for work that was already submitted by contributors and accepted by the editing staff is embarrassingly slow. I mean, in over three years, the following things have happened:

The work computer on which I wrote Crayola Caste System was two work computers ago.

The guy I was seeing (?) at the time I wrote Skipping Stones is now engaged to someone else, and I am married to someone else.

Obama was elected to a second term.

I had ten other poems and short stories get accepted and published by other literary journals.

I published one novel and wrote another.

Still, I never take a publication for granted. Any time I can have my work be accepted by a journal, it is a distinct honor, and having these two poems appear in Clackamas Literary Review is no exception. We all know it’s tough for print journals these days, but I can’t help but look at this situation with an adapt-or-die viewpoint. If it takes a publisher three years to go to print, eventually its reputation for slow-ass-slow publication timelines will supersede its reputation for quality contributions. Also, if you’re going to charge people to buy the print journal using online retailers such as Amazon, wouldn’t it be easy enough to offer it for electronic reading and open a new revenue stream?

But hey, that’s why I’m the writer and not the business person. And if you have $10 to spare, feel free to grab yourself a copy of the 2010 edition of Clackamas Literary Review. And maybe the 2011 issue in  2015, or the 2012 issue in 2025…

 

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In which I appear in a print anthology

In case you missed it, I had a poem published in Foliate Oak Literary Magazine back in May, my poem “Culley’s Pub: An Elegy“.

This same publisher is putting out a print anthology soon, and they’ve accepted Culley’s Pub to be part of this anthology. Yay! As per traditional publishing standards, I get a free copy of the anthology as payment for my work. Not complaining, just stating a fact.

As a little background, Culley’s Pub was my bar in college. Not by choice – my ex-husband always wanted to go there so we always went. Their signature drink was Mickey’s malt liquor, if that tells you anything. I’m told even the building Culley’s isn’t there anymore, so I suppose this is my way of immortalizing this seedy-ass dive bar.

In other news, I am starting a new job today so wish me luck.

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New poem up!

The poetry is back! And I have a new one for your verse-loving pleasure. I’ve been pretty well entrenched in wedding planning stuff for the past month or so, so naturally it was on my brain when I was thinking of writing a new poem.

And this is what came out of it! Check out Shotgun and let me know what you think 🙂

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2011 in Writer Review

I just got done reading my 2010 review, and now I’m ready to do the same for 2011. It’s been quite a year, and was way different from 2010.

  • I had two manuscripts published in 2011. It was less than 2010, but I’ll still call it a win because I spent more energy on getting The Redheaded Stepchild published and writing my next novel. I also spent more time writing new manuscripts in general than I did in 2010.
  • 2011 came and went, and the two poems that were accepted for publication in February 2010 are still waiting to go to print. And people wonder why print is dead…
  • I forwent the book deal and decided to publish The Redheaded Stepchild myself. I’m still experimenting to figure out what works as far as sales and marketing go, but I’m not in this for the money. I’m in it because I love it and I want to try new things.
  • I tripled my Twitter followers.
  • I once again pimped my writing at South by Southwest. I also submitted a panel proposal for SXSW 2012 which is still under review. Fingers crossed!
  • I used my Kindle to check out works by other Kindle authors. I’m hoping that it’ll be great for you-scratch-my-back-I’ll-scratch-yours kind of sales.
  • I joined a writer’s group, and I’m now leading that group. I look forward to Weird Austin Writers meetings every single time.
  • I began volunteering at my local library. I’m hoping this will help me reach out to readers once I get more established.

Goals for 2012

  • Sell 1,000 copies of The Redheaded Stepchild. I’ll have to figure out what works marketing-wise to make that happen, but it’d be nice to know that my book is in 1,000 new hands!
  • Publish my next novel. I’ve got a lot of rewriting and editing to do, but I’m really excited about the project and I think it’ll be my best work yet. Now if I can just think of a title…
  • Build relationships with readers and other authors. This means I need to keep up with my other author blogs all year round. (Compound goal.)
  • Publish The Other Dentenia Zickafoose. I’ve been shopping this guy around for almost 2 years now. It’s time.
  • Become a contributor on other author blogs. Guest posting, book reviews, whatever I can do. I need to put myself out there.
  • Write 15 new manuscripts. I’ll have the new novel, but I also want to write 10 poems and 5 short stories to add to my repertiore. Can’t be myopic with my manuscripts.

On the whole, I’ll call 2011 a win. I think 2012 is gonna rock.

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New poem: Occupy Rural Route Two

The whole Occupy Wall Street mess has been all over the news lately. I won’t tell you my opinion, except that I agree with some of their demands (though I think calling them demands is a really bad idea) but I think they’re blaming the wrong people and doing something that will likely prove ineffectual.

I also find it interesting because I grew up in a town whose idea of a traffic jam was 20 cars behind a tractor and corporate greed was the local furniture store not offering to sponsor the baseball team.  A guy I went to high school with is now an economist in DC, and we were talking on twitter about what the demands of “Occupy Buffalo, Missouri” would be if there were one. I had so much fun with it that I decided to write a little poem to demonstrate how far removed rural America is from corporate America, no matter how much politicians want to say we’re all the same.

It’s called Occupy Rural Route Two. Enjoy.

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New poem – Sister Christian

I wrote the idea for this poem on an envelope I stole from the greeting card aisle in a Price Chopper. When inspiration strikes, you’ve gotta be prepared. Yes, I ripped off the title from one of my favorite 80s ballads, so hopefully I won’t get sued.

What do you think?

Read it here!

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