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Tag: 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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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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Meanwhile, in the traditional publishing world…

Despite my literary fame and bestseller rankings exceeding 50 copies sold, I still make time to submit my shorter works to literary journals the old-fashioned way, including my poetry and short stories. Well, to a certain extent. There are still some journals that are SO old-fashioned with the way they do business I won’t even bother. This includes:

  • Ones that don’t accept simultaneous submissions. If you don’t want my work to ever be under consideration with another journal, but you won’t respond to me unless you accept my work, and it’ll be at least six months before that might happen, have fun.
  • Ones that don’t accept electronic submissions. You want me to print my work? On paper? Then send it… in the mailbox? Okay sure. But first, let me fly on back to 1989.

Last week I had a poem get accepted by a literary journal. I’m always excited and thankful when a journal accepts my work, despite the fact that none of them pay anymore, but I always lament having to withdraw my work from consideration from every other publication I sent it to. For this particular poem, I only had five other journals to inform, and this was how it all played out.

  • The publication that accepted my work received it back in May.
  • Two of the publications I submitted to required that withdrawing one of my poems meant withdrawing them all.
  • Three of the publications I submitted to just earlier this month.
  • One of the submissions I actually had to pay for, just like a contest with an entry fee.
  • The publication that accepted the poem has published my work before.

Compared to the last time I had to inform a bunch of journals that a work of mine was accepted elsewhere, this was much easier. Why? For one, I only submitted electronically, so there was a digital paper trail I could follow just by searching my email and logging in to my submission manager. For another, most of my submissions were done through an electronic submission manager (the costs of which some journals are defraying by passing the cost on to their submitters – see above) so withdrawing from submission was as easy as clicking a button.

Oh, and the number of times I submitted this poem to other journals before it was accepted? 19, as best as I can tell.

Keep your eyes peeled for my poem Culley’s Pub: An Elegy to appear in the next issue of Foliate Oak Literary Journal – whenever that may be.

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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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