September 30, 2008

Self-Publishing: Blurb

Blurb is a company (and community) that shares your joy of books. That includes reading them, making them, sharing them, and selling them.

There is something magic about holding a book of your work (poems, stories, photos, recipes...)

At one time, publishing your own book used to be called the "vanity press" but these days lots of writers are self-publishing. I should do a longer post on some of the better publishers for that. It doesn't take as much time, technical skills, money , or a friendly editor, agent, contest judge or publisher to actually publish a book - or 100 copies of that book.

One service that a friend used recently and liked is Blurb.
  • Prices start at only $12.95 for a 40-page softcover, $22.95 for Hardcover, Dust Jacket and $24.95 for Hardcover, ImageWrap.
  • Their bookmaking software is free.
  • All feature professional bindings and coated, semi-matte paper.
  • You can order just one copy or many, and you have the option to place your book in Blurb’s bookstore for friends and family to purchase.
  • Interesting formats -a distinctive Square 7x7 to Landscape 10x8 or Portrait 8x10 to Large Format Landscape 13x11.
  • Dozens of book styles, backgrounds, page designs, and text options to showcase your writing.
  • Orders arrive on your doorstep in approximately 7 to 10 business days

Nicely done website with lots samples - check out "poetry" to start.

September 20, 2008

World Poets

Last month, I received a submission of three poems in Turkish. I couldn't read them (and we only accept one submission) but it got me thinking about the world audience that the site and blog has gotten the past ten years.

If you ever look at the Live Traffic Feed here on the blog, you see that we get a good number of visitors from outside the United States.

This month we featured Coral Bracho (Mexico) for our writing prompt, and I'd like to use more world poets in the future.

If you're a reader from outside the United States (or a world-wise U.S. reader), please leave a comment and tell us what world poets we should consider for the site. Who are the most popular poets in your country? Give us a web link to their poems. Unfortunately, we are an English language site, so we're looking for either translation or foreign poets who also write in English.

I'm no expert on world poetry. I have been looking at which has poems in a good number of languages.
Who would you recommend and why?

September 14, 2008

Coral Bracho: Firefly Under the Tongue

I first heard Coral Bracho interviewed on the excellent program Bookworm from KCRW (also available in iTunes).

Her poem, "Firefly Under the Tongue," that is this month's model poem for our writing prompt, I first heard read in Spanish. I only understood a few words, but I loved the sound. Then I heard it read in its English translation. I understood almost all the words, but I still didn't understand the poem.

I don't feel all that bad since Bracho's translator, Forrest Gander, says this about the poem:

Is it a carnal poem about sex? Or is it a phenomenological poem about the reciprocal relation between subjectivity and world? Is it a concert of sound patterns stressing long o's and u's, love sounds, or is it an account of synesthetic perception? Does the poem intimate the hidden centrality of the earth in all human experience, in language itself? Should "Lengua" in the title be translated as "Language" or "Tongue"? What happens to those good old guides I and you after the first line?

I'm comfortable with the ambiguity. I like that the poem sends me to the dictionary to define words like violaceous (though that may be more the translator's choice). The brackets and dashes are part of her style, but why are they there? Back to Gander:

In this poem, the most difficult word for me to translate was cabala. In Spanish, it means both conjecture and Kabbalah. Since the bracketed words often seem to me like keys that unlock hidden connections and connotations, I went with door number two.
Those "keys" don't unlock much of the poem for me, but the thing is that I don't care. I like that the dictionary helps me to define words like violaceous.

Here's an excerpt from another of her poems from the Poetry Translation Centre website:

Water of Jellyfish by Coral Bracho

Water of jellyfish,
milky, snaking water
of ever-changing shapes; glossy water-flesh; melting
into its lovely surroundings. Water - sumptuous waters
receding, languid

and layered into calm. Water,
water silken, dusky, dense as lead - mercurial;
floating free, idling. The seaweedin there, sparkling, in pleasure's very breast.

In a 2005 interview, she described that "Agua de bordes l├║bricos" (Water of Jellyfish) "tries to get close to the movement of water with images that are "fleeting"; you can't grasp them, they are very fluid. What remains is that continuity of water."

It's the sound of the language that appeals to me. It's amazing that it works in translation. More from Gander:
It is impossible to carry into English the sound patterns. Sometimes I'm lucky, as when the long u of azules, zumo, and frutales work out as blue, juice, and fruit. When I lose sound play in one place—for instance, the slide from grieta to gruta or from goces to Gozne—I try to recover it in places where there may not be sound play in the original, as where I echo flustered in Luster or root in smooth. In Bracho's poems, the musical movement is primary and I let it tune my translation.

In this poem, the most difficult word for me to translate was cabala. In Spanish, it means both conjecture and Kabbalah. Since the bracketed words often seem to me like keys that unlock hidden connections and connotations, I went with door number two.

For this month's prompt, we reject narrative poems and request ones that are dripping with language, imagery, sensuality, mystery.

September 8, 2008

American Sentences

American Sentences as a poetic form was Allen Ginsberg's effort to make American the haiku. If haiku is seventeen syllables going down in Japanese text, he would make American Sentences seventeen syllables going across, linear, like just about everything else in America.

In Cosmopolitan Greetings, his 1994 book, he published two and a half pages of these nuggets, some of which had scene-setting preambles. For example:

Four skinheads stand in the streetlight rain chatting under an umbrella.

Rainy night on Union square, full moon. Want more poems? Wait till
I'm dead. is a site to present and foster this poetic form of haiku-length poems that Allen suggested be limited to 17 syllables, like haiku in Japanese and like the Heart Sutra in Buddhism.

It's not really a writing prompt, but feel free to post your efforts in the comments below.

The website is done by Paul Everett Nelson. He is self-descibed as a poet, father, teacher and broadcaster, and founder of the non-profit Global Voices Radio and co-founder of the Northwest SPokenword LAB (SPLAB!).

Paul says:
I have written one of these sentences every day since January 1, 2001. I find it
an amazing way to sharpen my perception and learn how to eliminate unnecessary
syllables. It aids in a sort of pre-editing that supports my spontaneous writing

September 4, 2008

Visiting Authors Series

Fall 2008 Visiting Authors Series at Warren County Community College (NJ)
  • Wednesday, September 17: Baron Wormser, former Poet Laureate of Maine and author of the just-released Scattered Chapters: New and Selected Poems (Sarabande Books)
  • Thursday, October 16: Mimi Schwartz, author of the new memoir, Good Neighbors, Bad Times - Echoes of My Father's German Village (University of Nebraska Press)
  • Thursday, November 13: Francine Prose, novelist and essayist, author of the forthcoming Goldengrove (HarperCollins—September 2008) and Blue Angel (Harper Perennial), a finalist for the National Book Award
  • NOTE: Baron Wormser and Francine Prose will each teach a master class, from 4 to 5 p.m., on the day of their respective readings. Enrollment in each master class is free and open to the public, but pre-registration is required. To register for the master class, please call B.J. Ward at (908) 835-2531. High school students are welcome.

All events are free and open to the public, thanks to a grant from the Warren County Cultural and Heritage Commission. The readings will be held in Room 123 and begin at 7:30 p.m.

For directions to the college, go to

September 1, 2008