Photos from Feats of Poetic Strength, Volume II

The second Feats of Poetic Strength went off without a hitch! Thank you to all the readers, audience members (including Feats of Poetic Strength Alumna, Hila Ratzabi), Gus from 1fiftyone gallery for hosting us, and Girls Rock Philly for the PA rental.

Before photos, I am going to plug Volume III of Feats of Poetic Strength, please RSVP! It features readers K.T. Landon, MaryAnn Miller, Violet LeVoit, Elizabeth Hoover, Elizabeth Langemak, and Sheila McMullin, and is sure to be as powerful as the first and second. It is also a fundraiser for Permanent Wave Philly, a great feminist collective of which I am a part.

Now, photos!

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Liz Solms, our first reader, took us on a volley between Jamaica and Philadelphia. Lovely words.

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Elliott BatTzedek (who blogs at thisfrenzy) was a hoot, particularly her poem pertaining to peaches.

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Ysabel Y. Gonzalez was a great performer who had the audience clapping between every poem.

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Jennifer Hook read poems from her book “This is How He Left Me,” and took us on an emotional journey recounting her life after her husband’s passing.

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Catherine Bancroft finished up the night with her hilarious and moving poems, full of imaginative leaps.

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The crowd after the reading discussing the work. This gives you an idea of how cool the space was!

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The readers line up for the mug shot.

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And that’s me on the left!

Thank you again to everyone, it was wonderful!!!

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Three Recent Poems Accepted by Storyscape Journal

“Ode to Kingsessing,” “Engagement,” and “Thin Walls” have been accepted by Storyscape Journal. I love these poems, and am so eager to see them in this wonderful journal. They are my most recent works to be accepted, and it is great to have some confirmation that I am heading on a good path with my writing.

The journal has an interesting premise, where instead of categorizing into prose/poetry, etc., they categorize by “Truth,” “Untruth,” and “We Don’t Know and They Won’t Tell Us.” So after my poems were accepted, I had to label them one of the three. It was a really challenging decision!

My poems are heavily influenced by confessionalist or post-confessionalist themes, and at their core they are all true. But then the muddiness of the details! I take liberties here and there in the writing process (the hissing cockroaches in “Thin Walls” are typically found in Madagascar, not in Philadelphia kitchens, for example), and it was a fascinating moment for me to decide if such a detail made these poems “Untruths.” Thinking of James Frey, I can imagine an argument for making them “Untruths.”

But I felt that negated so much of the poem’s meaning. And poetry is not likely to be held to the same standards of truth as memoir, for reasons I am both unsure of and grateful for. I think it has to do with, in part, the expanse of your audience. I believe I would prefer the right to change a detail here and there if it better suits the meaning of the poem, then to be bound to an exact (while malleable, fluid) truth.

So I decided on labeling my poems “Truths,” and don’t have a fear that I’m about to be kicked out Oprah’s book club as a result. It was a great process, deciding what drew the line where, and it’s one I’d suggest for all writers.

Oh, and of course, a great way to do so is to submit and have your work accepted by Storyscape! Link to submissions page here.

New Poem Accepted by Crab Orchard Review

Elated to announce that Crab Orchard Review has accepted my poem “Lucky Ones” for their special issue, “20 Years: Writing About 1995-2015.” Crab Orchard Review was the first journal I ever submitted to when I was 19, so it is a really big deal for me, 11 years later, to know I will soon appear in their pages.

The poem is about the 276 girls who were kidnapped by Boko Haram in Nigeria, and the title is a sort of irony referring to those who were able to escape, but will still spend the rest of their lives scarred. For those of you wondering, I wrote this poem well before meeting Vashti at the Winter Poetry and Prose Getaway, but did show it to her. She said it was like I was there, which meant a great deal to me, as I did a lot of research and invested much of my heart and time into writing the poem.

When I wrote it originally, it was in many couplets, and had a very neat and tidy order on the page. I meant this to provide a contrast to the chaos it was describing, but when poet Leonard Gontarek was reviewing it, he suggested trying these longer, more unwieldy lines, and that is its present incarnation, one I am much more pleased with. I am learning to be less clever and analytical in the construction of my writing through working with him.

I am very glad that it was picked up, as it is one of my favorite poems I have ever written, and I couldn’t think of a better place for it to find a home.

“The Original Siamese Twins” is Up at Museum of Americana

You can find the link here. I am grateful the journal accepted my poem, as well as the time they took with getting the spacing as it appeared in my original submission. They are currently seeking poems and prose written by women to do with American music. I really encourage you to submit, as they have been great to work with!

You can hear a recording of the poem that my old friend Brandon produced here.

A note on some of the other submissions in the journal: I was, of course, elated to see friend Denton Loving, author of Crimes Against Birds, published here with his piece “Hatred with Wings.” It’s wonderfully written, with amazing moments of dialogue. Denton is also the editor of drafthorse, another journal to which I recommend you submit.

Two women’s poems in particular also jumped out at me, among many excellent pieces of writing. The first was “An American Meditation” by Shandiel Beers,  an enviable poem that does so much in a surprisingly small amount of lines. The second was “Mechanicsville, Iowa” by Amanda Moore. Favorite poems of mine (think Bidart’s Ellen West) create characters devotedly, and this is one of those poems. The subject matter is loved and well cared for.

As a whole I think it is a wonderful issue, and I am glad to be a part of it!