September 28, 2020

An Anthology of Native Nations Poetry

It's interesting that when U.S. poet laureate Joy Harjo was working on the Norton Anthology of Native Nations Poetry, she and the other editors decided they needed to hear the whole collection.

"At one point in the editing, we decided to read the whole manuscript aloud," Harjo tells NPR's All Things Considered's Michele Martin. "That's how I revise, so that's what we did — is we took it into our mouths and took it to our bodies."

When the Light of the World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through is an anthology of poetry from more than 160 poets, representing close to 100 indigenous nations.

Harjo sees the poetry in this new collection as an opportunity: "A poem opens up time, it opens up memory, it opens up place, the meaning of place, the meaning of ... our place in history," she says.

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September 27, 2020

Tips On Submitting to Literary Publications

Here are some tips from the Superstition Review's Founding Editor Patricia Murphy and Hayden's Ferry Review Supervising Editor Katherine Berta about submitting to literary magazines.

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September 23, 2020

Defining "Published"

Image by Janet Gooch from Pixabay

A poet new to the Poets Online website emailed me some questions about her submission which was recently published on the site. I thought her questions might also be those of other poets submitting to Poets Online or to other publications.

Can I submit my poem on Poets Online to other places? 
That depends on the publication's rules. Many print and online publishers now do not accept work that has been previously published, in print or online. Resubmitting poems for contests and for anthologies often waives that rule. Some publishers (Rattle is an example) do not consider self-publishing to blogs, message boards, or social media as a publication with respect to this rule. Always read the submission rules carefully for any submission.

Muse-Pie Press's policy is much stricter and doesn't consider previously published poems, stating that "if a poem is posted on a blog, website, or social-networking site, or another online journal, we consider it published."

If my poem is posted in the archive at Poets Online is it considered to be published?
As with the answer above, I would say that Yes, it is published and if included in a collection that should be acknowledged. If you're submitting again, research the submission guidelines.

Should I copyright my poems?
As noted on the Poets Online copyright page in greater detail, poems published on the site are protected under the U.S. Copyright laws regardless of whether they are registered with the copyright office. It is not necessary for the symbol © to appear beside a poem for that poem to be protected by copyright law. All work published on are copyrighted one time only and then the copyright reverts to the authors.

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September 16, 2020

The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America

Today is the day in 1672 when America’s first published poet died. That was Anne Bradstreet.

She married Simon Bradstreet when she was about 16 and left England with him two years later, in 1630, as part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony that eventually settled in Andover, Massachusetts.

Anne raised eight children. In her few free minutes each day, she wrote poetry for her family and close friends. 

It has been almost 400 years since she was writing but the idea of a mother writing in her precious free time is not an outdated story. We still fairly regularly hear of women who have written a novel or their poetry in those early morning, naptime, schooltime and late nigh quiet minutes.

Anne wrote about her husband, her children, and God. I like her later poems which were shorter and more about daily life. She wrote about how she feared childbirth, the fire that destroyed their home, her discontentment with a Puritan woman's life, and later, the death of her granddaughter. 

I wonder what she would have written if she felt free to write her innermost thoughts. I wonder if she did write those poems but that they were hidden away or destroyed by someone.

She didn't know it but her brother-in-law took her poems to England where they were published. The British publication was titled The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America, By a Gentlewoman of Those Parts (1650). The introduction notes that “These poems are the fruit but of some few hours, curtailed from sleep and other refreshments.” 

It was Anne's only poetry published in her lifetime and it was the first published work by a woman in America, and it was the only volume of her work published during her lifetime.

In Adrienne Rich’s foreword to an edition of Anne's poetry, Rich portrays Anne as a person and as a writer and as an early American feminists, as well as the first true poet in the American colonies.

I have written about Anne here before. It's not so much her poetry that interests me, but her life and the parts of it we will never know.

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September 6, 2020

Prompt: The Personal and History

In a poetry workshop I had with Thomas Lux, he said "All poems are ars poetica." I know Lux didn't mean that literally, but many poems are about poetry in some way. Former Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky said, "All of my poems are about history." I wonder how literally he meant us to take that statement.

History can mean the whole series of past events, but those events are always connected with someone or something. Look at some of Pinsky's poems, such as "Shirt," or "From The Childhood of Jesus," and you know those poems are about that larger history.

Stanley Kunitz at age 95 became our tenth Poet Laureate in 2000. I have heard him read his poem " Halley's Comet," with the energy of that young boy who is thrilled and frightened on the rooftop. The poem takes us from the ground, up the stairs, onto the roof and, as he calls his father, the reader rises into that starry sky. (Kunitz's father committed suicide before Stanley had the chance to know him.)

What I like about Kunitz's poem is that it mixes the historical appearance of the comet in 1910 with his personal history and also some of his family history. (Halley's comet will next appear in the night sky in the year 2062

For this month's prompt, select a historic event as the starting point for a poem. Do not write only about the event, but also on your personal history and your connection to it. Is there an event that triggers a personal history because of when it occurred? The history lesson here is personal.

Watch and listen to this video where Kunitz talks about history and his poetry. This Bill Moyers video was recorded at one of the Dodge Poetry Festivals in New Jersey where I heard him read "Halley's Comet" and many of his other poems.