In early fall, I saw my name in a well-known print magazine for the first time when my short story “Empty” appeared in Space & Time Magazine. I tentatively touched the cover (beautiful cover for Issue 104) and ran my fingers over the name “Harry Turtledove.” I was in a publication with Harry Turtledove! Though my name wasn’t on the cover (why would it be with the likes of Turtledove to show off?), just knowing that my story was in those pages was a fantastic feeling. I scanned the Table of Contents, found my story, and had to sit down. Turning to the first page, I saw the excellent illustration by Victor Gianinni accompanying “Empty,” and suddenly, I felt like a real writer.
Dzanc Books, one of my favorite literary organizations, is having a Write-a-Thon tomorrow, November 15th, to raise funds for their projects and programs. My favorite of these is their fellowship program which combines a literary fellowship with a requirement for a year-long community service project. They also publish authors that may not find success in the mainstream publishing companies, and they provide assistance and support to literary journals, both online and in print. As of today, I’ve gathered $200 in flat-rate sponsorships. It is also possible to pledge per-word or per-page. My goal for the day tomorrow is 2,000 words or approx. 8 pages. I am offering to send a .pdf of the results of my labors to any of my sponsors that so desire it if they send an email to me (email@example.com).
This is another poem written for The Guardian Poetry Workshops, appearing there in February 2008. The workshop, written and judged by Jean Sprackland, challenged poets to observe and note sensory details.
The twig so much more than the worm -
she searches for the perfect curve
of limb, perfect fit to twist within
other broken boughs. She fills in drafty gaps
with someone’s lost ribbon – glittered,
The 2008 election season has been both inspiring and enlightening for many of the writers I’ve talked with in the last several months. Most have acknowledged that this year has and will continue to affect their writing on a much larger scale than elections of the past. Is that because of the historical significance of the presidential race (both in the primaries and in the general election), the weight of the crises that have overshadowed the whole season, the divisiveness of state and national campaigns to average Americans, or the highly controversial social issues on so many state ballots? I think it’s all of these things, and I don’t think the election is the end of this emotional roller coaster we’ve found ourselves riding. While it may seem like it’s time to unfasten our seat restraints and step onto the platform, ready to head home with a bag of cotton candy and a caramel apple, we’ve actually just come around the first turn. Now more than ever, it is time for writers and poets to break out their pen and paper (or word processors) and write toward a future of mutual understanding and acceptance. (more…)
This poem, in an earlier version, was at the top of the shortlist on The Guardian Poetry Workshop in May 2007. The challenge, written and judged by Daljit Nagra, was to write a dramatic monologue in which one speaker was talking to someone about someone else. My personal goal was inject within this poem a few common stereotypes, to make it a little bit ridiculous. This is the only poem I’ve written in dialect and it remains among my personal favorites, partly because of the great honor of being the first poet on the shortlist, but mostly because it was so much fun to write and is so much fun to read aloud. Enjoy!
Dancin’ with Anna Mae
I dunno. She’s sorta perty, I guess
but I reckon she bought that there dress
down at the Family Dollar. Why, just today
I heard her say she wished they had fittin’ rooms
there. Imagine! Fittin’ rooms at the Family Dollar!
This poem originally appeared in Autumn Sky Poetry.
Long Drive to Portland
The highway blinks between sheets
of rain and sleet, drops that bounce
from paint pealing back along the hood,
drops that smack the windshield
like fireflies in headlight glare.
Almost there turns to not-quite-there
turns to why-do-I-want-to-be-there
in the first place, bearing witness
to the slow softening of breath,
slowing rise and fall of his chest.
Once a poem is posted online, most publications consider it a reprint and won’t consider it for publication. So I figure I may as well post those poems where rights have reverted back to me, but are unlikely to be republished anywhere but in a collection of poems (which is completed, submitted, but not yet accepted). This poem took second place in the IBPC several months ago and was reprinted during Grass Roots Books & Music‘s National Poetry Month campaign (on Earth Day, April 2007).
As I went to check my email this morning, a headline on MSN caught my attention, “Dirty tricks increase as Election Day nears.” I’ve been following voter suppression stories for more than a month and couldn’t be more angry about the legalized disenfranchisement that is happening in states all across the nation. This story isn’t about legalized disenfranchisement, though. Instead, it focuses on illegal, misleading or downright false fliers, pamphlets, and phone calls that people are receiving days before the election. From threats about police being at the polls to arrest people with parking tickets to lies about when the election will happen, people who don’t believe in real democracy are out in force this year.