If I Were a Defiant Animal . . . (Palinode)

I’ve been busy writing and promoting. My ‘soft’ horror story, “Muzzling the Monster,” is out in book form with some other excellent hobbits’ people’s stories.

But in the meantime, a sort of narrative manifesto in the form of a palinode.

Palinode: According to the Poetry Foundation, a palinode is “an ode or song that retracts or recants what the poet wrote in a previous poem.”

And now, in response to the world today and in homage to WordPresser and poet Robert Okaji, whose much more deft and studied poetical works you can find here . . .

If I Were a . . . (defiant animal/goddess/dolphin/force)

for Robert Okaji

If I were another kind of defiant animal than me, I think I’d choose to be a well-kept black cat. I’d be haughty about my rich, luxuriant fur and take every opportunity to let the sun follow my lead, basking in its admiration like the goddess I clearly am. Continue reading

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The Wordsmith’s Weekly Wramble in Words and Pictures

It’s been awhile, but as I love October, the time seems ripely right. So, another catch-all post. I’m considering doing the 6.66 days of horror fiction at the end of the month as well—and maybe even NaNoWriMo—but we shall see.

Think of this as a kind of Monday Markets, although it isn’t. Hope you enjoy what could be the beginning of a more consistent and beautiful blogging and reading relationship . . .

The Wordsmith’s Weekly Wramble

Publications & Awards (you, me, and any every-body*)

  1. MY SHORT STORY “MUZZLING THE MONSTER” IS BEING PUBLISHED at the end of this month, in a steampunk and horror anthology called Ghosts, Gears, and Grimoires (by Mocha Memoirs Press), and I’m thrilled and honored to be included. I literally cannot wait to see what the ghost-gears-grimoiresother storytellers have concocted for the book. And, in a first in my writing career, there’s even a creepy, cool trailer for this anthology, designed by the talented Terry Phillips. I’ll let you know as soon as I know acquisition details (sounds like something a Ferengi would be interested in, eh?).
  2. THERE’S ALREADY A TON of books out there, right? But you don’t want to waste your time with poorly edited or conceived works either. Thankfully, that is far from the case here. Although I am biased in the sense of having been a beta reader of this book (and her previous one), I am once again happy to champion Sarah Potter’s speculative fiction offering, this one christened Noah Padgett and the Dog-People. (I also hope to have Sarah over to the blog very soon, as her schedule allows!) Although NPATDP is aimed squarely at middle-grade readers (or accelerated 7-10 year olds), there’s every chance as an adult you will enjoy this romp through the world of Canis sapiens, in a dimension something like ours but curiously tipped. Will the human boy, Noah, make it out of Zyx alive? Do tell! . . .  I’ve done a review over at Amazon, and you lucky folks & blokes in the UK can get a deal on the book right now, with free delivery in the UK on orders with at least £10 of books. So, whatever are you waiting for?
  3. HAVE YOU READ? Resident WordPress poet Robert Okaji has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, for his poem “Two Cranes on a Snowy Pine”! Even though Bob might profess to be an ordinary person—and they, too, can be nominated for and win a Pushcart!—his diction, structure, and nimble enjambment techniques boggle the brain. Do check out his latest offerings at his blog, “O at the Edges.”
  4. PUT IT ON YOUR CALENDAR! WordPress humorist and author Hugh Roberts is releasing a book in early December 2016. If you’re a reader of Hugh’s blog, you know that some speculative fiction and otherwise wacky, wild, and wee-urd jellybabies (I mean, stories) await! More on all that Welsh Winter Wonderfulness at Hugh’s post, and you’ll find a slew of other books to add to your lists (chosen by Hugh).

 

Markets & Other Interesting Things

Depending on your time, desired compensation, experience, genre, word count, and so on, markets are your bread and butter. Your mead and meat. Your nectar and ambrosia. Your cake and icing. Your chutney and naan. Your Dornish wine and saltfish. I really shouldn’t blog while I’m hungry, should I?

  1. DeadLights magazine. This is a new market. They have hatched a nonpaying weekly short fiction market, called “Shotgun Horror Clips,” as well as a paying short-story one for the DL magazine. Citing influences from King and Straub to Barker, Jackson, et al, they clawed their way high up my horror-writing market list. The specifics about submitting paying short fiction, flash, art, and CNF for the magazine can be found here. For the Shotgun Horror Clips, check this link.
  2. More horror: Pseudopod, dubbed “the sound of horror,” is seeking your first-form, A-level, Big League, Premier League speculative fiction in the weird, gory, dark, violent, thrilling/unsettling vein. Got a time-traveling Jack the Ripper? Oh, wait. That’s been done already. But give them your absolute best, with emphasis on the dark and macabre (less comedy, more tragedy), and see if you can hit the really high notes with this HWA and soon-to-be SFWA approved market (professional rates, mind you!). Before you do submit, do get a really good feel for what they like. One of the writers I enjoy and follow, fictionist Aeryn Rudel, recently had a piece called “Night Games” converted to audio and featured on Pseudopod here. Think vampires and the desolation of the pitcher’s mound in baseball and you might harness a scintilla of this story.
  3. Interesting things:
  • Eavesdrop on F/SF writer Brandon Sanderson (Mistborn series et al) as he instructs on topics ranging from the business of writing to plotting to world-building and more. It’s as if you’re taking a master class but you can be introverted at the same time!
  • #HoldontotheLight: Did you know that 100+ authors of SF/F are blogging about mental illness and wellness this month? The matters touched on range from PTSD to anxiety to suicide. I can attest that these issues surface time and again in the science fiction and fantasy communities. If you’d like to join the movement, as a reader, commenter, contributor, or otherwise, one fitting place to start is writer Gail Z. Martin’s link round-up.
  • You might not know it, but there’s a campaign to create an exhibit and anthology of women’s science fiction writing, with confirmed participants as illustrious as Jane Yolen, N.K. Jemisin, Seanan McGuire, and a bevy of others thus far. As I write this, the “Catalysts, Explorers & Secret Keepers: Women of SF” project is raising funds and in the process of kicking off a call for submissions by or featuring strong female protagonists, including those from the stellar authors mentioned above. Now here’s a campaign to fund, if ever there was one!

It is time, or far past it, for me to close this post. *If you’d like to plug your own latest publication in the comments, please feel free.* Just don’t try to sell Russian watches, Cialis, or other male enhancement paraphernalia there.

See you in the funny papers . . .

fm-1-cropped

For those times when you want to look like Freddie Mercury with a sore shoulder. Maybe it’s under pressure?

recordplayer

Remember these console record-players? You never know what you’ll find at Goodwill.

 

Green Swimming, in Summer: A Poem

As they say, and now for something (not completely, but) a little different! An attempted poem; the first in a while for me. [And no, it’s not related to green pools at the recent Olympics!]

Corn long-shot

Utterly thrilling, isn’t it?

Green Swimming, in Summer

Eyelines: and when

the corn

is exactly even

with the pool’s sagging caldera,

the plastic-snap

crocodile wisps, drifts

maw gaping

and it is

as if

we could leap

into the jade organic

and skiff the silks aside,

maybe use toes to play with the tassels,

splitting the husks with our own

layered unkempts.

Here, there are no

wheelbarrow—a collective noun like

a parliament of owls or

murder of crows

No wheelbarrows either. They are shut

from sight.

But there are ducks nearby:

none white.

And closer still, neighborly chickens:

one of whom folds a neurological neck

backward

at a break-beak angle.

Damaged in the egg,

they say.

(Aren’t we all?)

He is named, but, sadly, I do not

remember.

So I christen him

Sir Yawp.

Nothing’s barbaric about him,

however.

As for me—us—the jury’s

out. Out there, somewhere.

Hiding in a star nursery.

Sir Yawp javelins pill-bugs and

snags gnats mid-air.

Corn flies, mistaken for sweat bees,

are no match for the

feathered Mr. Miyagi.

For now, all things

entomologic—

skillfully—

pushed out of human consciousness.

And out far, if you chance

to snatch a glance

at today’s

Archaeopteryx, a transitional

preening the sky

or sentinel on a wire,

a vulture strutting

to the strummed frets

of a grisly gravel feast,

stay back. Let

your mind make

the strokes

required, etchings on the facades

of the flat dust.

Let it say:

I have passed by

here and seen.

I.

Have.

Been.

####

At the end of the summer (here in the Northern hemisphere, anyway), I have been inspired by many things. One of those is poet Robert Okaji’s participation in the 30/30 Project, wherein a poet writes 30 poems in 30 days to benefit the publisher Tupelo Press. If you appreciate poetry—modern or otherwise—you might very well enjoy the fare offered in this project. Several donor incentives remain for sponsoring Bob, although the sand is getting finer. If that’s not enough, Bob links to the Tupelo site with each of his evocative daily poems; that site boasts work (much of it also as stunning, I must say) from eight other participating poets. I hope you’ll partake of some poetry today, before August (like summer 2016) pulls up roots and leaves us with . . .  leaves, of course!

Submission Saturday: The Under-the-Weather Edition

Fairy Tale Manuscript

The fairy tale that wasn’t. At least it looks like a bird!

Well, well, I’ve been busy editing, trying to write a (interesting) fairy tale (here is a helpful, little primer on fairy tales, folklore, etc.), and just living, including a good deal of Nightingale-ing. Now that the kids aren’t sick and the husband is healing, of course it strikes me. Today, I’m digging out of the aftermath.

In any case, doing these market/submission articles really gets me jazzed, and I haven’t done one in at least a couple weeks. So, in other words, you’re due. Hope you find something fruitful here!

  1. Due April 1. You’ve got dreams. I’ve got dreams. We’ve all got dreams. Why not put them down on paper and submit them to Bop Dead City? For their current issue (Issue #15) contest, they choose one poem and one fiction piece (otherwise, one genre takes it all). The Issue 15 contest is themed “dreams”; regular submissions guidelines here.
  2. Due April 1: No joke! The annual Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry competition is open to writers of poetry in English, with a maximum of 250 lines (1 poem only) sought. But with this contest, the object is to write badly. Very, very badly. The art is in writing so badly, it crosses over into good-writing terrain. Can you do it? Like to try? Check out Winning Writers for all the specifics on this free-to-enter contest that promises big prizes for the best “worst poem” you can craft.
  3. Due officially April 15 (but actually June 30): Staying in the humor-writing vein, let’s move over to the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest (BLFC) for superior shoddy sentence–writing, not to be confused with the Lyttle Lytton annual contest. Here, your mission, if you choose to accept the challenge, is to pen the very worst opening line to a novel ever conceived—and there are genre categories, too, including romance, science fiction, crime/detective, and historical fiction. Bad for poor Edward Bulwer-Lytton; but good for us. More details here.
  4. April 15, Austin, Texas, 5:30-9:30 p.m. If you’re fond of small presses, visionary writing, poetry, or some combination of the aforementioned (and will be in Austin, Tx., in April), get yourself over to Malvern Books for the Tupelo 30/30 project Poetry Night. It will feature WP staple poet Robert Okaji, as well as several other T30/30 poets: Christine Beck, Katy Chrisler, D.G. Geis, Pamela Paek, and Ronnie K. Stephens.
  5. Opening May 15, 2016 (closing August 15): Enchanted Conversation, a fairy tale magazine, has its eyes peeled for your best stories about Krampus, the dark alternative to Santa Claus, for its Krampusnacht Two anthology, to be published in conjunction with World Weaver Press. Kate Wolford is the editor. They are looking for fiction submissions from 1,000 to 9,999 words. You will greatly benefit from reading their first anthology on this topic, Krampusnacht: Twelve Nights of Krampus, and following the newest anthology guidelines to the letter. Good luck!
  6. A sixth-grader wrote this flash-fiction story and it was published online by SmokeLong Quarterly. Wow! SLQ, a leader in the flash fiction genre, publishes only flash (no poetry or nonfiction) of under 1000 words—one submission at a time, please!—and you must include a print-ready third-person biography. Give them a whirl if you enjoy flash(ing) your fiction!

And, in the meantime . . . enjoy your Easter/spring (or autumn) weekend! Happy writing and art-making!

 

Poetry Review: Robert Okaji’s If Your Matter Could Reform

10592324_10153113120915120_689180005_nIt’s April, National Poetry Month, and I want to think of poet Robert Okaji’s new chapbook, If Your Matter Could Reform, as a song cycle. It does, after all, make music of the words with which we gird our lives: “In the marrowbone of night,” he writes, “your song parts the fog.” [“Trains”]

It’s not any casual poetry, crammed with namby-pamby rhymes and beats, easily forgettable and born-discardable. Like the best, it’s steeped in Stygian waters, chipped at by the fine, diamond-point of time, and polished to an exacting degree. You might begin to wonder ‘where’s my place’ wrestling with these words. And, oh, the words! Let’s not overlook those.

The chapbook’s title stems from the subjunctive mood: “if” this hypothetical or contrary reality could happen, then something equally magical follows. This conscious naming choice places the chapbook on prosodic terra firma. The subjunctive is the very expression of doubts, wishes, desires, regrets, and requests. What a perfect spot in the universe from which to peel back the curtain and show a reader a bit of the poet’s wheelhouse!

This book, available now on download through Dink Press, is not packed to the gills with snobby, high-falutin’ poetic argot, but it needn’t be. To paraphrase another poet, its fresh directness gets at where the deep-down things live, though it is neither emotionally or intellectually doused nor tamped fashionably.

From twinkling stem to stern, this chapbook moves: in and through itself, outside itself, through you, and through time.

“To sweeten the dish, add salt. To bear the pain,

render the insoluble. . . .

My mother brought to this country a token of her death to come.”

Readers of Bob’s blog, O at the Edges, will feel a favorite-blue-jeans kind of familiarity to the poem “Ashes,” which is probably, along with the more traditional, one might say, love poem “Nine Ways of Shaping the Moon,” at the highest-water point in the chapbook for personal (brushing up against confessional) poetry. Although I’ve never met Bob in real life, I get a sense of his actual flesh-and-blood voice, timbre, pitch, pattern, in these two poems in particular. I would also add “Earth’s Damp Mound,” which I was fortunate to read in Bob’s blog in the past year. But these two pieces plumb the emotional depths as they must, in matters of regret and remembrance, both personal and the hinted-at historical, as in “Ashes,” and shoot to a zenith when the narrator himself implores his beloved to “Talk music to me. Talk conspiracies/and food and dogs and rain. Do this/under the wild night sky.” [“Nine Ways of Shaping the Moon”]

Perhaps the quintessential question in this 16-poem volume prods you out of any complacency as a reader and, if you are a writer, drives your courage back to the sticking place: that empty page. “Are words ever enough?” [“If We Burn”]

There’s a Shakespearean sonnet here, too, where “Nothing is everything, but before.” [“Nocturne with a Line from Porchia”] There is ample praise of gravity and of lives well lived and written, even if “the words find[ing]themselves/alone, without measure,/without force, and no body to compare.” [“Earth’s Damp Mound”]

It seems to me that Bob’s friend and mentor, Prentiss Moore, eulogized so eloquently here [“Earth’s Damp Mound”] and elsewhere, would applaud the herculean effort of the chapbook—it goes a long way toward elevating the diminished thing (one’s life sifting by and any accrued regrets) and reforming both lost matter and memories. What more could an author ask of him or herself? What more could a reader want beyond a hushed “come over here and let me share my hard-won secrets with you” from a wise friend or confidant? If Your Matter Could Reform might be the key fob to the private kingdom in that regard.

photo(26)


Texas poet and one-time bookstore owner Robert Okaji frequently shares his original poetry and thoughts on other bibliophilic interests at his blog: O at the Edges. His first chapbook, If Your Matter Could Reform, is now available for digital download from Dink Press, via their Etsy shop, for a mere $1. Think of it as caffeine direct to the intellect, and at well under the price of a traditional cup of coffee.  Print versions are slated to be available April 19, 2015.