Posts filed under ‘Poetry’

Jane Hirshfield on Revising Poetry

10windows   Today I attended a lecture on “Writing Poems, Writing Books” at Vanderbilt University by Jane Hirshfield, an American poet whose honors include election to Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2012 and work in seven editions of Best American Poetry. Her most recent books are Ten Windows: How Great Poems Transform the World (Alfred A. Knopf, 2015)1 and The Beauty: Poems (Alfred A. Knopf, 2015)2.


Below are my notes on the questions she asks herself while revising (with some paraphrasing, and her copious explanatory comments left out since I can’t write that fast!).

Questions to Ask While Revising a Poem

  • What does the poem actually say on the page? Is it saying what it wants to say? Is it confused?
  • Does it follow its own deepest impulses, rather than my initial idea?
  • Does it go deep enough?
  • Would saying less be stronger?
  • Does the poem know more than I did when I started writing it? Did I discover anything?
  • Is there music? Does it need a more deeply living body of sound? Is the music helping its meaning?
  • Does the visual shape of the poem [lines, line breaks, stanzas, etc.] serve its meaning?
  • Is it true?
  • Is it ethical?
  • Does it feel?
  • Is there anything that doesn’t belong?
  • Do any digressions serve the poem?
  • Are the poem’s awkwardnesses and smoothnesses in its own best service?
  • Are there places that would be confusing to an outside reader or where I’ve assumed non-general knowledge or mind-reading?
  • Are there any cliches in words, images or ideas?
  • Is the poem self-satisfied?
  • Is it predictable?
  • Is it precise?
  • Does it allow strangeness? Is the strangeness it allows accessible?
  • Is the grammar correct? Does wrong or non-standard syntax serve the purpose of the poem?
  • Are the transitions serving the poem? Are the ideas and rhetorical gestures in the right order?
  • Does the diction [ornateness/simpleness] fit the meaning?
  • Is it in the right voice [first person/second person/third person]?
  • Do each of its moments move it forward?
  • Should it go out into the world or is it the seed for another poem?
  • Is it finished?


thebeauty.indd   1 Buy Ten Windows: How Great Poems Transform the World (Alfred A. Knopf, 2015)1 from your local bookstore or online at Amazon; Barnes & Noble; Chapters Canada; IndieBound; or Powell’s.

2 Buy The Beauty: Poems (Alfred A. Knopf, 2015) from your local bookstore or online at Amazon; Barnes & Noble; Chapters Canada; IndieBound; or Powell’s.

Add comment 18 April 2015

How to Live on Other Planets: A Handbook for Aspiring Aliens

  • ISBN 978-1-937794-32-3 (print) available at Alibris, Amazon (USA), Barnes & Noble (USA) and at bookstores which use Ingram Distributors.
  • ISBN 978-1-937794-31-6 (mobi) for Kindle is available at Amazon (AU; BR; CA; DE; ES; FR; IN; IT; JP; MX; UK; USA) and Weightless (everywhere).
  • ISBN 978-1-937794-33-0 (epub) for iPad, Nook, etc. is available at Barnes & Noble (USA), Chapters (Canada), Kobo (USA), and Weightless (everywhere).
  • Discuss this book at Goodreads.

How to Live on Other Planets: A Handbook for Aspiring Aliens explores the immigrant experience in a science fiction setting, with exciting fiction and poetry from some of the genre’s best writers. A diverse book, it comprises writers from the US, Canada, Hungary, India, Laos, New Zealand, Malaysia, Ukraine, Switzerland, South Africa, the Philippines and the UK.

In these pages, you’ll find Sturgeon winner Sarah Pinsker’s robot grandmother, James Tiptree, Jr., Award winner Nisi Shawl’s prison planet and Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy Award winner Ken Liu’s space- and time-spanning story of different kinds of ghosts. You’ll find Bryan Thao Worra’s Cthulhic poetry, and Pinckney Benedict’s sad, whimsical tale of genocide. You’ll travel to Frankfurt, to the moon, to Mars, to the underworld, to unnamed alien planets, under the ocean, through clusters of asteroids. You’ll land on the fourth planet from the star Deneb, and an alternate universe version of Earth, and a world of Jesuses.

This is not a textbook. You will not find here polemics on immigration policy or colonialism. The most compelling fiction articulates the unsaid, the unbearable, and the incomprehensible; these stories say things about the immigration experience that a lecture never could. The purpose of this book is, first and foremost, to entertain the casual and the sophisticated reader, but its genesis is a response to the question: Who do we become when we live with the unfamiliar?


Table of Contents:

  • Dean Francis Alfar, “Ohkti”
  • Celia Lisset Alvarez, “Malibu Barbie Moves to Mars”
  • RJ Astruc, “A Believer’s Guide to Azagarth”
  • Lisa Bao, “like father, like daughter”
  • Pinckney Benedict, “Zog-19: A Scientific Romance”
  • Lisa Bolekaja, “The Saltwater African”
  • Mary Buchinger, “Transplanted”
  • Zen Cho, “The Four Generations of Chang E”
  • Tina Connolly, “Turning the Apples”
  • Indrapramit Das, “muo-ka’s Child”
  • Tom Doyle, “The Floating Otherworld”
  • Peg Duthie, “With Light-Years Come Heaviness”
  • Thomas Greene, “Zero Bar”
  • Benjamin S. Grossberg, “The Space Traveler’s Husband,” “The Space Traveler and the Promised Planet” and “The Space Traveler and Boston”
  • Minal Hajratwala, “The Unicorn at the Racetrack”
  • Julie Bloss Kelsey, “tongue lashing” and “the itch of new skin”
  • Rose Lemberg, “The Three Immigrations”
  • Ken Liu, “Ghost Days”
  • Alex Dally MacFarlane, “Found”
  • Anil Menon, “Into The Night”
  • Joanne Merriam, “Little Ambushes”
  • Mary Anne Mohanraj, “Jump Space”
  • Daniel José Older, “Phantom Overload”
  • Abbey Mei Otis, “Blood, Blood”
  • Sarah Pinsker, “The Low Hum of Her”
  • Elyss G. Punsalan, “Ashland”
  • Benjamin Rosenbaum, “The Guy Who Worked For Money”
  • Erica L. Satifka, “Sea Changes”
  • Nisi Shawl, “In Colors Everywhere”
  • Lewis Shiner, “Primes”
  • Marge Simon, “South”
  • Sonya Taaffe, “Di Vayse Pave”
  • Bogi Takács, “The Tiny English-Hungarian Phrasebook For Visiting Extraterrestrials”
  • Bryan Thao Worra, “Dead End In December” and “The Deep Ones”
  • Deborah Walker, “Speed of Love”
  • Nick Wood, “Azania”


Contributor Bios:

Dean Francis Alfar is a fictionist, playwright and the publisher of the Philippine Speculative Fiction annuals, beginning with the first volume in 2005.  His fiction has appeared in The Time Traveler’s Almanac, The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror, Strange Horizons, Rabid Transit: Menagerie, The Apex Book of World SF, and the Exotic Gothic anthologies, among others.    His books include a novel, Salamanca, and two collections of short fiction, The Kite of Stars and other stories and How to Traverse Terra Incognita.

Celia Lisset Alvarez holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Miami and teaches at Our Lady of Lourdes Academy. Her debut collection of poetry, Shapeshifting (Spire Press, 2006), was the recipient of the 2005 Spire Press Poetry Award. A second collection, The Stones (Finishing Line Press, 2006) followed that same year. Other work has appeared or is forthcoming in numerous journals and anthologies. Born in Madrid of Cuban parents en route to the United States, she grew up in Miami, where she lives with her husband, Cuban-American literary scholar and fellow poet Rafael Miguel Montes.

RJ Astruc lives in New Zealand and has written two novels: Harmonica + Gig and A Festival of Skeletons. RJ’s short stories have appeared in many magazines including Strange Horizons, Daily Science Fiction, ASIM, Aurealis and Midnight Echo, as well as the short story collection Signs Over the Pacific and Other Stories (Upper Rubber Boot Books, 2013).

Lisa Bao is Chinese, Canadian, and American to various degrees. She studies linguistics and computer science at Swarthmore College. Her poetry has previously been published in Strange Horizons and Eye to the Telescope.

Pinckney Benedict grew up in rural West Virginia. He has published a novel and three collections of short fiction, the most recent of which is Miracle Boy and Other Stories. His work has been published in, among other magazines and anthologies, Esquire, Zoetrope: All-Story, the O. Henry Award series, the Pushcart Prize series, the Best New Stories from the South series, Apocalypse Now: Poems and Prose from the End of Days, The Ecco Anthology of Contemporary American Short Fiction, and The Oxford Book of the American Short Story. Benedict serves as a professor in the MFA program at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

Octavia E. Butler Scholar Lisa Bolekaja is a graduate of the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Workshop, an affiliate member of the Horror Writers Association, and a member of the Carl Brandon Society. She co-hosts a screenwriting podcast called “Hilliard Guess’ Screenwriters Rant Room” and her work has appeared in “Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History” (Crossed Genres Publishing), as well as “The WisCon Chronicles: Volume 8” (Aqueduct Press). Her story “Don’t Dig Too Deep” will be in the upcoming Red Volume, an anthology of speculative fiction produced by her Clarion 2012 class with all proceeds going to support the Clarion Foundation.

Mary Buchinger is the author of Aerialist (Gold Wake Press, 2015; shortlisted for the May Swenson Poetry Award, the OSU Press/The Journal Wheeler Prize for Poetry and the Perugia Press Prize). Her poems have appeared in AGNI, Cortland Review, DIAGRAM, Fifth Wednesday, Nimrod International Journal of Prose and Poetry, The Massachusetts Review, and elsewhere. She is Associate Professor of English and Communication Studies at MCPHS University in Boston, Massachusetts. You can find her at

Zen Cho was born and raised in Malaysia, and now lives in London. Her short story collection Spirits Abroad was published in summer 2014. Her short fiction has appeared most recently in anthologies End of the Road from Solaris Books, Love in Penang from Fixi Novo, and The Alchemy Press Book of Urban Mythic. She was a 2013 finalist for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.

Tina Connolly’s stories have appeared in Lightspeed,, Strange Horizons, Rich Horton’s Unplugged: Year’s Best Online SF and URB’s Apocalypse Now: Poems and Prose from the End of Days. Her books include the Nebula-nominated fantasy Ironskin (Tor, 2012) and its sequel Copperhead.

Indrapramit Das is a writer and artist from Kolkata, India. His fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, Asimov’s and Apex Magazine, as well as anthologies The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Thirtieth Annual Collection (St. Martin’s Press), Aliens: Recent Encounters (Prime Books) and Mothership: Tales from Afrofuturism and Beyond (Rosarium Publishing). His short story “The Widow and the Xir” is available as an ebook from URB. He is a grateful graduate of the 2012 Clarion West Writers Workshop and a recipient of the Octavia E. Butler Scholarship Award to attend the former. He completed his MFA at the University of British Columbia.

Tor Books published Tom Doyle’s first novel, American Craftsmen, in 2014. His novelette “While Ireland Holds These Graves” won third place in the Writers of the Future contest, and his novelette “The Wizard of Macatawa” (Paradox #11) won the WSFA Small Press Award. His stories have also appeared in Daily Science Fiction, Futurismic, and several other magazines. Paper Golem published his short fiction collection, The Wizard of Macatawa and Other Stories.

Peg Duthie is a Taiwanese Texan resident of Tennessee. She is the author of Measured Extravagance (Upper Rubber Boot, 2012), and there’s more about her at

Tom Greene was born in Texas, grew up as a biracial Anglo/Latino science nerd, then moved to New England to study British Literature. He works as a full-time English professor and part-time lecturer on vampire literature. Recent publications include short stories in Analog, Polluto and Strange Horizons. He lives in Salem, Massachusetts with his wife and two cats.

Benjamin S. Grossberg is the author of Space Traveler (University of Tampa Press, 2014), Sweet Core Orchard (University of Tampa, 2009, winner of the 2008 Tampa Review Prize and a Lambda Literary Award), Underwater Lengths in a Single Breath (Ashland Poetry Press, 2007).  His poems have appeared in many venues including the Pushcart Prize and Best American Poetry anthologies.  He teaches creative writing at The University of Hartford.

Minal Hajratwala has inhabited San Francisco, New Zealand, Michigan, Bangalore, and several other earth sites. Her nonfiction epic, Leaving India: My Family’s Journey from Five Villages to Five Continents, won four literary awards. She is the editor of Out! Stories from the New Queer India and creatrix of a one-woman performance extravaganza, Avatars: Gods for a New Millennium. Her poetry collection Bountiful Instructions for Enlightenment is forthcoming in 2014. Educated at Stanford and Columbia, she was a 2010-11 Fulbright-Nehru Senior Scholar. She is a writing coach and co-founder of The (Great) Indian Poetry Collective, publishing innovative poetry from India, and can be found at

Julie Bloss Kelsey started writing scifaiku in 2009, after the birth of her third child. Her short science fiction poems have since appeared in Scifaikuest, Seven by Twenty, microcosms, Eye to the Telescope, and other publications. She won the Dwarf Stars Award in 2011 for her poem “Comet.” Julie lives in Maryland with her husband, kids, and an ever-changing assortment of pets. Connect with her on Twitter (@MamaJoules).

Rose Lemberg was born in Ukraine, and lived in subarctic Russia before immigrating to Israel with her family in 1990. She moved countries again in 2001, this time to the US, for graduate school. She officially became an immigrant in 2010, after living in the US for 9 years as a nonresident alien. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in Strange Horizons, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Apex, and other venues. For more information, visit

An author and translator of speculative fiction, as well as a lawyer and programmer, Ken Liu is a winner of the Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy awards. His fiction has appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Asimov’s, Analog, Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, and Strange Horizons, among other places. He lives with his family near Boston, Massachusetts. His debut novel, The Grace of Kings, the first in a fantasy series, will be published by Simon & Schuster’s new genre fiction imprint in 2015, along with a collection of short stories. He’s online at

Alex Dally MacFarlane is a writer, editor and historian. When not researching narrative maps in the legendary traditions of Alexander III of Macedon, she writes stories, found in Clarkesworld Magazine, Strange Horizons, Heiresses of Russ 2013: The Year’s Best Lesbian Speculative Fiction and other anthologies. She is the editor of Aliens: Recent Encounters (Prime Books, 2013) and The Mammoth Book of SF Stories by Women (Constable & Robinson, 2014).

Anil Menon’s short stories have appeared in Albedo One, Chiaroscuro, Interzone, Interfictions, LCRW, Sybil’s Garage, Strange Horizons, among other publications. His debut novel The Beast With Nine Billion Feet (Zubaan Books, India) was nominated for the 2010 Parallax Prize and the Vodafone-Crossword award. Along with Vandana Singh, he co-edited Breaking the Bow (Zubaan Books, 2012), an anthology of speculative short fiction inspired by the Ramayana. 

Editor Joanne Merriam is a Nova Scotian writer living in Nashville, Tennessee, and runs Upper Rubber Boot Books. Her writing has appeared in Asimov’s, Escape Pod, On Spec, Pank, Per Contra, Strange Horizons, and The Journal of Unlikely Entomology. Her poetry collection, The Glaze from Breaking, was published by Stride Books in 2005 and was re-issued by URB in 2011. She is also the co-editor, with H. L. Nelson, of Choose Wisely: 35 Women Up To No Good.

Mary Anne Mohanraj wrote Bodies in Motion (a finalist for the Asian American Book Awards and translated into six languages) and nine other titles, most recently The Stars Change (Circlet Press, 2013). Mohanraj received a Breaking Barriers Award from the Chicago Foundation for Women for her work in Asian American arts organizing, and has also won an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship. Mohanraj is Clinical Assistant Professor of fiction and literature and Associate Director of Asian and Asian American Studies at the University of Illinois.  She serves as Executive Director of DesiLit.

Daniel José Older is the author of the upcoming Young Adult novel Shadowshaper (Arthur A. Levine Books, 2015) and the Bone Street Rumba urban fantasy series, which begins in January 2015 with Half-Resurrection Blues from Penguin’s Roc imprint. Publishers Weekly hailed him as a “rising star of the genre” after the publication of his debut ghost noir collection, Salsa Nocturna. He co-edited the anthology Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History and guest-edited the music issue of Crossed Genres. His short stories and essays have appeared in, Salon, BuzzFeed, the New Haven Review, PANK, Apex and Strange Horizons and the anthologies Subversion and Mothership: Tales Of Afrofuturism And Beyond. Daniel’s band Ghost Star gigs regularly around New York and he facilitates workshops on storytelling from an anti-oppressive power analysis. You can find his thoughts on writing, read dispatches from his decade-long career as an NYC paramedic and hear his music at and @djolder on Twitter.

Abbey Mei Otis likes people and art forms on the margins. She studied creative writing at Oberlin College and is a graduate of the Clarion West Writers Workshop. She has taught poetry in the DC public schools with the DC Creative Writing Workshop, and is now a fellow at the Michener Center for Writers in Austin, Texas.

Sarah Pinsker is a writer and musician living in Baltimore, Maryland. Her fiction has been published in Asimov’s, Strange Horizons, Lightspeed, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, and the Long Hidden anthology, among others. Her novelette “In Joy, Knowing the Abyss Behind,” was nominated for the Nebula and won the 2014 Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award.

Manila-based Elyss G. Punsalan runs her own video production company. Some of her fiction can be found in the anthologies Philippine Speculative Fiction (Volumes 3, 6, and 9), Philippine Genre Stories, A Time for Dragons, HORROR: Filipino Fiction for Young Adults, and the webzine Bewildering Stories. At one point in her life, she produced and hosted the monthly Filipino audio fiction site Pakinggan Pilipinas (

Benjamin Rosenbaum lives near Basel, Switzerland with his wife and children. His stories have been published in Nature, Harper’s, F&SF, Asimov’s, McSweeney’s, and Strange Horizons, translated into 23 languages, and nominated for Hugo, Nebula, BSFA, Locus, World Fantasy, and Sturgeon Awards. He has collaborated with artist Ethan Ham on several art/literary hybrids. Find out more at

Erica L. Satifka’s fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld Magazine, Daily Science Fiction, Ideomancer, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet and the Greek magazine supplement εννέα. She lives in Portland, Oregon. Visit her online at
Nisi Shawl’s collection Filter House was a 2009 James Tiptree, Jr., Award winner; her stories have been published in Asimov’s, Strange Horizons, The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror and both volumes of the Dark Matter series.  She was the 2011 Guest of Honor at the feminist SF convention WisCon and a 2014 co-Guest of Honor for the Science Fiction Research Association.  She co-authored the renowned Writing the Other: A Practical Approach with Cynthia Ward, and co-edited the nonfiction anthology Strange Matings: Science Fiction, Feminism, African American Voices, and Octavia E. Butler.  Shawl’s Belgian Congo steampunk novel Everfair is forthcoming in 2015 from Tor Books.  Her website is

Lewis Shiner’s latest novel is Dark Tangos (Subterranean Press, 2011). Previous novels include Frontera and Deserted Cities of the Heart, both Nebula Award finalists, and the World Fantasy Award-winning Glimpses. He’s also published four short story collections, journalism, and comics. Virtually all of his work is available for free download at

Marge Simon’s works appear in Strange Horizons, Niteblade, DailySF Magazine, Pedestal Magazine, Dreams & Nightmares and other places. She edits a column for the HWA Newsletter and serves as Chair of the Board of Trustees.  She has won the Strange Horizons Readers Choice Award, the Bram Stoker Award™(2008, 2012 & 2013), the Rhysling Award and the Dwarf Stars Award. Collections: Like Birds in the Rain, Unearthly Delights, The Mad Hattery, Vampires, Zombies & Wanton Souls, and Dangerous Dreams. Find her at

Sonya Taaffe’s short fiction and poetry can be found in the collections Postcards from the Province of Hyphens (Prime Books), Singing Innocence and Experience (Prime Books), and A Mayse-Bikhl (Papaveria Press), and in anthologies including Aliens: Recent Encounters, Beyond Binary: Genderqueer and Sexually Fluid Speculative Fiction, The Moment of Change: An Anthology of Feminist Speculative Poetry, People of the Book: A Decade of Jewish Science Fiction & Fantasy, The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror, The Alchemy of Stars: Rhysling Award Winners Showcase, and The Best of Not One of Us. She is currently senior poetry editor at Strange Horizons; she holds master’s degrees in Classics from Brandeis and Yale and once named a Kuiper belt object. She lives in Somerville with her husband and two cats.

Bogi Takács is a Hungarian Jewish author, a psycholinguist and a popular-science journalist. E writes both speculative fiction and poetry, and eir works have been published or are forthcoming in a variety of venues like Strange Horizons, Apex and GigaNotoSaurus, among others. E is online at

Deborah Walker grew up in the most English town in England, but she soon high-tailed it down to London, where she now lives with her partner, Chris, and her two young children. Find Deborah in the British Museum trawling the past for future inspiration or on her blog: Her stories have appeared in Nature’s Futures, Cosmos, Daily Science Fiction and The Year’s Best SF 18.

A South African clinical psychologist, Nick Wood has short stories in AfroSF, Interzone, Infinity Plus, PostScripts, Redstone Science Fiction and the Newcon Press anthology, Subterfuge, amongst other publications. His YA speculative novel, The stone chameleon, was published in South Africa. Nick has completed an MA in Creative Writing (SF & Fantasy) through Middlesex University, London and is currently training clinical psychologists in Hertfordshire, England. He can be found: @nick45wood or

Bryan Thao Worra is an award-winning Lao-American writer. An NEA Fellow in literature, he is a professional member of the Horror Writer Association and the Science Fiction Poetry Association. His work appears internationally, including in Innsmouth Free Press, Tales of the Unanticipated, Illumen, Astropoetica, Outsiders Within, Dark Wisdom, and Mad Poets of Terra. He is the author of the books of speculative poetry On the Other Side of the Eye, Barrow, and Demonstra. Visit him online at


Stories and poems from the book available online:


What People Are Saying About How to Live on Other Planets:

All of these stories have previously appeared in major genre magazines or other anthologies, so serious science fiction fans will have encountered at least some of these stories before. However, the book is still worth buying, and the gnomes highly recommend it to both serious fans of the genre and newcomers to science fiction.

Rating: 5 Gnomes out of 5

—Jennifer Mitchell, Review: How to Live on Other Planets: A Handbook for Aspiring Aliens, Gnome Reviews, 15 April 2015

should make you smile

—Cory Doctorow, Links: Immigrant experience science fiction; principal calls FBI over flag-tossing; Sriracha doesn’t want trademarks, Boing Boing, 13 February 2015

16 March 2015

Floodgate Poetry Series Vol. 1

Floodgate Poetry Series Vol. 1, containing poetry by Jenna Bazzell, Martin Anthony Call and Campbell McGrath, released 17 November 2014.

  • ISBN 978-1-937794-35-4 (print) is available at Alibris, Amazon (USA), Barnes & Noble (USA), Chapters (Canada), Waterstones (UK) and at bookstores which work with the distributor Ingram.
  • ISBN 978-1-937794-36-1 (epub) is available for iPad, Nook, etc. at Barnes & Noble (USA), Chapters Indigo (Canada), and Kobo (USA).
  • ISBN 978-1-937794-34-7 (mobi) is available for Kindle on Amazon (AU; BR; CA; DE; ES; FR; IN; IT; JP; MX; UK; US).
  • Discuss this book at Goodreads.

This is the first volume in the Floodgate Poetry Series, an annual series of books collecting three chapbooks by three poets in a single volume. Chapbooks—short books under 40 pages—arose when printed books became affordable in the 16th century. The series is in the tradition of 18th and 19th century British and American literary annuals, and the Penguin Modern Poets Series of the 1960s and ’70s.

Campbell McGrath’s Picasso/Mao is a short collection of poems told from the point of view of the two historical figures, spanning seventy-five years of history. McGrath is the author of twelve collections of poetry, and has been awarded Guggenheim and MacArthur “Genius” Fellowships. He is the Philip and Patricia Frost Professor of Creative Writing at Florida International University.

Jenna Bazzell’s Homeland describes a troubled family life, beginning with a drug deal gone bad, redeemed by time and the pleasures of the natural world. Bazzell won the 2010 AWP Intro Journal Award and an Honorable Mention from the Academy of American Poets Prize for poems included in the collection.

Martin Anthony Call’s The Fermi Sea explores a near future of urban decay, nanobots and holograms against a backdrop of lost love. Call earned his MFA in Creative Writing from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale in 2008.


Reviews of Floodgate Poetry Series Vol. 1:

This collection of chapbooks offers the reader a startling variety. Bazzell’s Homeland is a compelling blend of narrative coherence and lyric lift. The opening poem, “Bubba Pub,” offers us the DNA of her entire chapbook: poems anchored in place and relationship. The poem describes a drug deal the speaker goes on with her mother, and a line like “the long O of a gun barrel tunnels back to the torso of a man” both shows the horror of being robbed during the interaction and “how suddenly night takes on strangeness.” It has been said that literature should either make the familiar strange or the strange familiar; Homeland does both with alacrity. The Fermi Sea, by Call, explores a distinctly 21st-century theology, one where the Holy Ghost is turned holographically into the Hologhost. And Call makes use of poetic puns throughout his chapbook, all of which are charmingly and even philosophically attractive. And, finally, in Picasso/Mao, McGrath opens up history, art, and politics to the purview of poetry. The unlikely pairing of these two figures allows for many unexpected and exciting overlaps and divergences. Campbell offers us entry into the minds of his poetic subjects in persona poems that delight with their ambition. Floodgate brings together three poets of stunning range and ability.

—Okla Elliott, author of The Cartographer’s Ink and From the Crooked Timber

The poems in Jenna Bazzell’s Homeland read with the mournful longing of prayers we know will not be answered. In their lyrical cataloguing of the living abundance of the land, the hope that the lost will be found again rises out of grief again and again with a powerful—because forever unsatisfied—poignancy. Whitman advised us to look for him under our bootsoles. Bazzell searches everywhere for the rebirth of the missing, patiently testing the face of the owl or the water that stands in the ditch for the solace of the familiar, the untamed astonishment of “[t]he brown fields. The unseen sky. The need to believe.”

—Lisa Lewis, author of Burned House with Swimming Pool and Story Box

Moved to praise Jenna Bazzell’s poems, one could say they transcend the subject of a family relationship. But what the poems really work so ardently to do is stay—rooted in their rich Southern landscape, and true to the woman they remember. Continually uncovering new angles for approaching her lyric narrative sequence, Bazzell closes each poem with such well-crafted care that, turning a page, the reader is both surprised that more could follow and drawn further into material so deeply felt it will never be finished.

—Rose McLarney, author of The Always Broken Plates of Mountains and Its Day Being Gone, winner of the National Poetry Series award

Martin Anthony Call’s character sketches in The Fermi Sea call to mind a dystopian Spoon River Anthology set somewhere mid-twenty-first century on the West Coast. Filled with nanotechnology, all-digital media, walled cities, holograms, and air cabs, these poems project a gritty disillusionment about the power of both humans and machines. (Think more Blade Runner than Star Trek.) With deft poetic strokes, Call introduces the reader to a host of characters whose trials have only just begun.

—Sandy Longhorn, author of The Girlhood Book of Prairie Myths and The Alchemy of My Mortal Form, winner of the 2014 Louise Bogan Award

Martin Anthony Call pairs a dystopian vision with formal craftsmanship and narrative intricacy. Fusing the old world with the next world, The Fermi Sea is an elegy for the present, a portrait of perception in which the real is always a step ahead and certainty is a rumor that no one cares to repeat. Haunting and urgent, Call has found a line and a music as arresting as it is gratifying. A remarkable collection!

—James Kimbrell, winner of the Academy of American Poets Prize, and author of The Gatehouse Heaven and My Psychic

In Picasso/Mao Campbell McGrath perfects the persona in a series of historical poems that span seventy-five years. While the founder of Cubism decries “the idiocy of war,” the founder of the Red Army draws an egg, failing a class in life drawing. Ample, dazzling, and elegantly crafted, these poems demonstrate a great mind enacting other great minds. Oscar Wilde once wrote, “A mask tells us more than a face.” These McGrath poems tell us much more than biography—they demonstrate cultural shifts and perception, a sophisticated and compassionate worldview, the poet’s intellect shining through.

—Denise Duhamel, author of Blowout and Queen for a Day: Selected and New Poems, and guest editor of The Best American Poetry 2013

Campbell McGrath brings music to his epistolary poems centered on Mao and Picasso, their deeply lyrical voices a resistance to “the sugar-coated bullets of bourgeois entitlement,” their obsessions revealed by each “owning nothing, [but] having staked everything.” These poems are divergent elegies to lost loves, Mao to his war, Picasso to his art, and McGrath is the expert historian, translator, creator of “art [that] is not documentation, but transformation.” I was transformed by these poems, and transfixed, twisted, torn asunder, rebuilt, reformed, and awe-struck. You will be too. And Mao? McGrath teaches him to sing like a poet from his “Hall of the Wealth of Books.” And Picasso? McGrath paints him, “to stave off death.” And fearsome, the knowledge that McGrath just continues getting better.

—Seth Brady Tucker, author of Mormon Boy and We Deserve the Gods We Ask For, winner of the 2013 Gival Press Poetry Award

17 November 2014

Press release: Campbell McGrath in new Floodgate Poetry Series

15 NOVEMBER 2014

Campbell McGrath in new Floodgate Poetry Series

Campbell McGrath’s Picasso/Mao appears in Floodgate Poetry Series Vol. 1, along with short collections by Jenna Bazzell and Martin Anthony Call. The book will be released November 17 in ebook and softcover editions.

Each Floodgate volume will combine the work of newer writers with established poets. This new book is the first in the series.

“I’m so excited to work with such excellent poets,” said Andrew McFadyen-Ketchum, the series editor. “Bringing together debut collections by Jenna Bazzell and Martin Call with McGrath’s fourteenth book displays the broad range of poetry being written today. That’s what Floodgate is all about.”

Campbell McGrath’s Picasso/Mao is a short collection of poems told from the point of view of the two historical figures, spanning seventy-five years of history. McGrath is the author of twelve collections of poetry, and has been awarded Guggenheim and MacArthur “Genius” Fellowships. He is the Philip and Patricia Frost Professor of Creative Writing at Florida International University. Celebrated poet and novelist Denise Duhamel, who guest edited The Best American Poetry 2013, called his collection “dazzling, and elegantly crafted.”

Jenna Bazzell’s Homeland describes a troubled family life, beginning with a drug deal gone bad, redeemed by time and the pleasures of the natural world. Bazzell won the 2010 AWP Intro Journal Award and has received two Honorable Mentions from the Academy of American Poets Prize, for poems included in the collection.

Martin Anthony Call’s The Fermi Sea explores a near future of urban decay, nanobots and holograms against a backdrop of lost love. Call earned his MFA in Creative Writing from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale in 2008.

The Floodgate Poetry Series is in the tradition of 18th and 19th century British and American literary annuals, and the Penguin Modern Poets Series of the 1960s and ’70s.

Upper Rubber Boot Books is publishing the series. “Upper Rubber Boot” is Nova Scotian slang for a remote, possibly unhip, probably insignificant place. URB Books was founded in 2011 to give a voice to writers working from a (metaphorically) remote place, and to that end publishes primarily poetry, short story collections, and other books which would have a difficult place finding a home in the publishing world.



Joanne Merriam, Publisher
Upper Rubber Boot Books
PO Box 41232, Nashville TN 37204

15 November 2014

The Sky Needs More Work

The Sky Needs More Work: poems by Corey Mesler, released 31 July 2014.

  • ISBN 978-1-937794-72-9 (print) is available for order at bookstores which work with the distributor Ingram, and at Alibris (USA), Amazon (USA), Barnes & Noble (USA), and Waterstones (UK). Signed/inscribed copies can be ordered from the author’s bookstore here.
  • ISBN 978-1-937794-42-2 (epub) is available for iPad, Nook, etc. at Barnes & Noble (USA), Chapters Indigo (Canada), Kobo (USA) and Weightless (worldwide; US currency).
  • ISBN 978-1-937794-40-8 (mobi) is available for Kindle on Amazon (AU, BR, CA, DE, ES, FR, IN, IT, JP, MX, UK, USA) and Weightless (worldwide; US currency).
  • Discuss this book at Goodreads.

With poems like “Strictly Blowjob” and “The Cancer of Believing You’re in Control,” acclaimed writer Corey Mesler has made a book that adjoins sex, love and social connection in their many manifestations, from meditations on The Beatles, death, pharmacology, and infidelity, to “the holycow feeling/of just being human and/satisfied like a goddamn poem.”


From The Sky Needs More Work:


She drove me to a playground
behind a church.

There underneath the rocking
swings she sat

astride me, taking my root
roughly into her

body like a philter. I bucked
against her, the

ground was hard and cold.
Later she would be too.

But, for a while, illicitly she
carried me around like

a stone. She was in love with
my smile, my talk,

my ability to not be her husband.


Poems from the book available online:

These links all open in a new window.


Reviews of The Sky Needs More Work:

In “The Last Poem,” we are once again in dialogue with the same universal editor as in “Dear Editor,” and while the self-effacing tone still lingers, there is an element of hope in the newfound desire of the speaker to get his words, those turbulent ghosts, published. “The End of the Year of Darkness” sums it up best: “What is/lost is lost” and “What I create is good,” and what Mesler managed to create in these 88 pages is beyond good.

—A.J. Huffman, “The Sky Needs More Work by Corey Mesler,” REviews, Summer 2014.

If you are a lover of human experience, I highly recommend this book of poetry!

—Sharra Rosichan, “Book Review: The Sky Needs More Work by Corey Mesler,” Odds and Ends, 27 August 2014.

…the subject matter is dripping with delicious verbal concoctions… This book is not to be missed.

—Susan Cushman, “Writing on Wednesday: The holycow feeling of just being human. Or today we burn clouds.,” Pen & Palette, 23 July 2014

Mesler’s is again a poetry manifesting, indeed, sustaining—the Memphis school. Wm. Carlos Williams and numerous others would find it substantial and elucidating of the all the contraries to the idealized lumpen life. The bottom falls away from it, the foundations, the bases, and one is put on notices to be aware of what lives live within the one we live. Merely by seeing in language. A poetry that does not need explaining, abjures it explicitly.

—Gordon Osing, author of Theaters of Skin, and La Belle Dame


Critical Praise for Corey Mesler:

Corey Mesler is that rarest of things: a truly fun, literary writer.

—C. L. Bledsoe, “The Lit Report,” Prick of the Spindle, September 2013

Mesler repeatedly examines the flip-side of the coins laid over the eyes of pain and find laughter.

—Steve Stern, author of the Jewish Book Award-winning, The Wedding Jester, praising The Catastrophe of my Personality

Mesler’s poems bear a family resemblance to the excellent poetry of Kay Ryan and Tim Suermondt but chances are you have not read poems exactly like his. Inimitable, sometimes surreal or synthetic (joining the possible with the impossible), never illogical but willing to take brave leaps, his poems are as individual as he is, original, engaging, goofy, and smart as blazes.

—Kelly Cherry, author of The Life and Death of Poetry: Poems, praising The Catastrophe of my Personality

Not also but especially in the briefest, the tenderest of moments, when one is possessed by intimacy with his own life, there is no more crowding an enemy than human time. The radicality (I know, there’s no such word) of Corey Mesler’s poetry is its presentation of the terrific values in pieces of being, in protracted moments of verbal attention, in images that make even the awful and perilous things we know—enlightening.

—Gordon Osing, author of Things that Never Happened, praising Our Locust Years

31 July 2014

Corey Mesler

Corey Mesler has published in numerous journals and anthologies. He has published five novels, Talk: A Novel in Dialogue (2002), We Are Billion-Year-Old Carbon (2006), The Ballad of the Two Tom Moores (2010), Following Richard Brautigan (2010), and Gardner Remembers (2011), three full length poetry collections, Some Identity Problems (2008), Before the Great Troubling (2011), and The Sky Needs More Work, and three books of short stories, Listen: 29 Short Conversations (2009), Notes toward the Story and Other Stories (2011) and I’ll Give You Something to Cry About (2011). He has also published a dozen chapbooks of both poetry and prose. He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize numerous times, and two of his poems have been chosen for Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac. With his wife, he runs Burke’s Book Store in Memphis TN, one of the country’s oldest (1875) and best independent bookstores. He can be found at


Books for Upper Rubber Boot:

The Sky Needs More Work: poems by Corey Mesler, released 31 July 2014.

  • ISBN 978-1-937794-72-9 (print) is available for order at bookstores through the distributor Ingram, and at Amazon. Signed/inscribed copies can be ordered from the author’s bookstore here.
  • ISBN 978-1-937794-42-2 (epub) is available for iPad, Nook, etc. at Barnes & Noble (USA), Chapters Indigo (Canada), Kobo (USA) and Weightless (worldwide; US currency).
  • ISBN 978-1-937794-40-8 (mobi) is available for Kindle on Amazon (AU, BR, CA, DE, ES, FR, IN, IT, JP, MX, UK, USA) and Weightless (worldwide; US currency).
  • ISBN 978-1-937794-41-5 (pdf) is available at Smashwords.

With poems like “Strictly Blowjob” and “The Cancer of Believing You’re in Control,” acclaimed writer Corey Mesler has made a book that adjoins sex, love and social connection in their many manifestations, from meditations on The Beatles, death, pharmacology, and infidelity, to “the holycow feeling/of just being human and/satisfied like a goddamn poem.”

31 July 2014

Open call for submissions for Museum anthology

Announcing an open call for reprint submissions for our upcoming anthology of fiction and poetry, The Museum of All Things Awesome And That Go Boom, to be published in 2016 by Upper Rubber Boot Books.

Editor Joanne Merriam is interested in explosions, adventure, derring-do, swashbuckling, dinosaurs, ray guns, von Neumann machines, fanged monsters, flame-throwing killer robots, chainsaws, antimatter, and blunt force trauma.

She is also interested in writing which explodes our perspective of science fiction itself—literary fiction employing SF tropes, cyberpunk, speculative fiction, magical realism, infernokrusher, etc., are all welcome.

  • Word/page count: Up to 10,000 words/story or up to 100 lines/poem.
  • Payment: Pro-rated share of 30% royalty for ebook sales and 10% royalty of print book sales; pro-rata share to be based upon page count in the print edition.
  • Publication history: Must be previously published, unless it’s a translation, in which case the original must have been published in its original language. Non-exclusive reprint rights must be available (but it’s fine if the work is still available to readers online). Unpublished works may be submitted by invitation only.
  • Multiple submissions: Up to 3 stories or 5 poems.
  • Simultaneous submissions: Since we will be asking for non-exclusive rights, this is fine as long as the other market is also non-exclusive; please note that this means we will expect you not to withdraw a submission because it has been accepted elsewhere.
  • Deadline: 4 January 2015.
  • To submit: Send to joanne at upperrubberboot dot com:
    (a) your complete manuscript as a .RTF,
    (b) a bio of 100 words or fewer, and
    (c) a listing of previous publication credit(s) for the work.
    Put “Museum SF” in the subject line.
    If the work is a translation, please also provide a statement from the rightsholder that you are authorized to translate it.

27 July 2014

Marilyn Monroe: Poems

Marilyn Monroe: Poems: released on 30 November 2013.

Lyn Lifshin has written an astonishing portrait of the real Marilyn Monroe, inside the icon. These poems imagine Norma Jean Baker’s inner thoughts about Hollywood, love, her work, her memories, her hopes, and the sorrows that eventually led to her overdose from sleeping pills in 1962. Lifshin gives us Marilyn the toy, Marilyn the mother, and Marilyn the survivor, in a remarkable tour de force.

This book was originally published in 1994 by Quiet Lion Press.


Poems from the book available online:


Lifshin on Marilyn Monroe: Poems:

If I have nothing, or very little on the subject, it’s like a starter’s gun go get me going. You could say I get carried away, obsessive and excessive! I love the feeling of being lost in something I never planned to write or think about. I love “assignments,” suggestions that take me on a road I’ve never been on. A forthcoming collection of Barbie poems and my book MARILYN MONROE came from wanting to write something for the Mondo books Rick Peabody was editing. I had just begun to spend time in DC, felt isolated, alone and I wanted to write some Marilyn Monroe poems for the collection. I thought of Marilyn feeling the same way, wandered through museums imagining her at the same exhibits, in the same galleries, penthouses, subways.

—Lyn Lifshin, “An Interview With Lyn Lifshin
by Nathan Leslie
,” Word Riot, 2011


Critical Praise for Lyn Lifshin:

Here she is! Might as well stop fighting it. Lifshin is not going to go away. For men, she’s sexy. For women she’s an archetype of gutsy independence. As a poet, she’s nobody but herself. Frightening prolific and utterly intense. One of a kind.

San Francisco Review of Books

Few poets can permeate the heart of things as Lyn Lifshin does.

—Alice Pero, review of All the Poets Who Have Touched Me

In the decades I’ve read Lifshin poems she is invariably interesting. Like dancing, the poems in this book are on the move in a variation of emotions usually with lovers, ex-lovers, or would be lovers. The speaker moves through the narrative with clarity and is utterly convincing in Lifshin’s unique idiom. There’s a breathing humanity in these poems, which future generations can read to feel the grit and grace of feminine life in our era.

—William Page, review of Ballroom

30 November 2013

Lyn Lifshin

Lyn Lifshin is one of the most widely published poets in the world. She has published over 90 collections of poetry and her work has appeared in countless magazines, including American Poetry Review, Abraxas, Chelsea, Ms. Magazine, New York Quarterly, Ohio Review, Ploughshares, and Rolling Stone, and anthologies, including Ghosts of the Holocaust: An Anthology of Poetry by the Second Generation, Lyrotica: An Anthology of Erotic Poetry and Prose, and Lipsmack!: A Sampler Platter of Poets from NightBallet Press. Her awards include the Hart Crane Memorial Award, the Jack Kerouac Award for Kiss The Skin Off, the Paterson Poetry Award for Before It’s Light, and the Texas Review Award for The Licorice Daughter: My Year with Ruffian. She is also the subject of Mary Ann Lynch’s 1989 documentary film, Not Made Of Glass. For more information, see her web site:


Books for Upper Rubber Boot:

Marilyn Monroe: Poems: released on 30 November 2013.

  • ISBN 978-1-937794-30-9 (epub) is available for iPad, Nook, etc. at Barnes & Noble (USA & UK).
  • ISBN 978-1-937794-28-6 (mobi) is available for Kindle on Amazon (AU, BR, CA, DE, ES, FR, IN, IT, JP, MX, UK, USA).
  • ISBN 978-1-937794-29-3 (pdf) is available at Smashwords.

1 May 2013

Hiss of Leaves

Explore the subtle beauty of beetles, trash in the wind, cigar boxes, snail trails, bottle caps, sheets snapping on the line, and more. This contemplative haiku chapbook by T. D. Ingram will help you cultivate a greater awareness of the magnificent in the everyday, and open your heart to the beauty inherent in everything.


From Hiss of Leaves:

heat weights the air
then crickets

fall morning
monarchs fly
with the leaves

hiss of leaves
sheets snap
on the line


Poems from the book available online:

These links all open in a new window.

  • five haiku at The Haiku Foundation, part of The Haiku Registry and included in THF Haiku App: “hiss of leaves” [originally Editors Choice, South by Southeast 11:1 (2004) and Tinywords (April 21, 2005)]; “last freight car” [originally South by Southeast 14:3 (2007)]; “fall morning” [originally South by Southeast 11:1 (2004)]; “hawk circles” [originally South by Southeast 10:1 (2003)]; “clear evening” [originally South by Southeast 12:2 (2005)].
  • the silence,” A Hundred Gourds 1:1 December 2011.
  • noonday heat,” Red Dragonfly, August 19, 2011.



These poems necessarily embrace the seasons and the natural world, but they also embrace the mundane world of humans. For instance, “bottle caps”:

     bottle caps
     stuck in blacktop
     small planets

One my favorites, “the brightness”:

     the brightness
     of the full moon
     deepens the cold

I have yet to experience the snow in the high desert of Oregon to see if this is true here also, but it is certainly true in the Midwest and other places I’ve been. It seems as if the light from the full moon, illuminating the world it shines on, ought make the winter night a little warmer but it has the exact opposite effect. The poet has caught this perfectly.

— Mark Lindner, “Ingram, Hiss of Leaves,” Habitually Probing Generalist, 26 September 2012.

1 comment 11 August 2012

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