On book launches and launching poems

In the past two months we've held two launch events for newly-released Still Life with Poem: Contemporary Natures Mortes in Verse, which I co-edited with my friend Jehanne for the Literary House Press; we've waded through over a thousand submissions for the third issue of Cherry Tree; and although I haven't been able to get much new writing done, I did manage to send out a batch of poems to thirteen literary magazines. I'm pretty exhausted!

On October 18, we hosted the first book launch at home at the Rose O'Neill Literary House with readings from contributors James Arthur, James Allen Hall, Leslie Harrison, dawn lonsinger, and Dora Malech. 

I gave the introduction (a first for me) and also read my poem, as well as two others from the anthology. 

We had some delicious food, debuted a beautiful commemorative letterpress broadside that I helped to design and print, and decorated the space with still lifes made up of gourds, antlers, tarot cards, and other things. It was an incredibly fun night!

Then on November 9, we held a DC launch at the Arts Club of Washington! We had readings from James Arthur, Sandra Beasley, Kim Bridgford, James Allen Hall, Dora Malech, and Jason Schneiderman. After the readings, Sandra (our host & contributor) called me to the stage and I answered a few questions about the editorial process. After a heartbreaking election night, this evening of poetry and fellowship was just what all of us needed.

We ended our most recent reading period for Cherry Tree on October 15, but we only finished reading, evaluating, and responding to all submissions on November 10. This third issue is going to be an especially strong and very full one! We are very excited for all of the amazing poetry, fiction, and nonfiction we will be publishing this time around. Our beloved Production Intern Caroline Harvey (who also worked at my side as Literary House Press Intern last spring, playing a crucial role in helping to bring Still Life with Poem into the world) has just set to work laying out the new issue, which will be heading to print in early January in preparation for its debut at an early AWP Conference in DC, February 8-11. We have so much in the works for AWP this year, so stay tuned for updates!

With all of this and more happening, it's been especially difficult over the past couple of months to get any of my own writing and other poetry work done. I managed to complete my fourth Alien poem in early October, but I haven't yet begun the fifth and it is really beginning to weigh on me. Soon, I tell myself. In all of the busyness I've felt the need to create a to-do list for my poetry work to ease my worries here: 

As you can see, I have begun to cross things off the list! I'm hoping to have a chapbook manuscript (part of my full-length manuscript-in-progress) ready to send out to presses by January. The poems are there and finished, but it needs a new title that I just haven't been able to grasp yet. I've gotten so far as generating a word cloud with the entire text to help loosen up some title ideas. The manuscript is three five-poem sections, each focused on a different fairy-tale girl. So I'm thinking the title could be a list of three simple, but evocative nouns? But that may just be because I love Kate Bernheimer's Horse, Flower, Bird. And despite it clearly being the most commonly used word in the manuscript, I'd also like to avoid using the word "girl" in the title, if at all possible. 

This past weekend I submitted the first four Alien poems (a respectable little batch) to thirteen literary magazines. Whew! And I'm doing my best to aim high, since I write so slowly and rarely have many to send out:
  • 32 Poems
  • A Public Space
  • Bennington Review
  • The Collagist
  • Crazyhorse
  • Gulf Coast
  • Iowa Review
  • The Journal
  • jubilat
  • New Ohio Review
  • Passages North
  • Third Coast
  • Waxwing

I crossed my fingers, kissed these poems good-bye (for now), and have moved on to the next items on the list. We'll just have to see if I manage to write these final two Alien poems before the new year. I'm hopeful, but entirely exhausted. Which seems to be my whole outlook on life at this moment in time: emptied out, but still there's hope. 


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