Sunday, September 27, 2009

Resources for Poets

A blizzard of manuscripts have come to Cherry Pie Press in the last few months, a result (I think?) of the increasing readership for the nine chapbooks now in print, and of the unexpected and welcome publicity from a review in Prairie Schooner of Nan Sweet's chapbook Rotogravure, and finally the attentions of Poets & Writers in highlighting Cherry Pie in their recent articles on chapbook publishers.

Welcome, poets! I'm a little slow at responding to manuscripts because of the welcome flood (and also because of the demands of the non-poetry office job, taking up much of my mental powers and many of my weekends now as we wind through yet another corporate merger -- but hey I LOVE THAT JOB just in case my boss is reading). The range and quality of the poetry is wonderful to see. My process, as always, includes reading through a manuscript at least three times. If it retains spark and complexity after three readings, it's a serious candidate or, at minimum, receives a serious and detailed response, and whatever encouragement is possible through the venue of an email.

Of special note, poetry of extremely high quality has come in from exactly the type of poets Cherry Pie was meant for -- women in the midwest (or, stretching it a little, the west) who are excellent writers, with fresh viewpoints and use of language, active in their local poetry communities and in many cases giving back significantly to that community with their time and talents, and a little separated from the mainstream well-funded well-supported larger world of poetry in the city or poetry in the academy. I am encouraged, and not surprised at all, to note that some of the finest poetry I've seen in the recent flood comes from places like a feedstore owner in Nebraska, or a mother home-schooling her children when she's not out working the ranch. (Ladies, you know who you are -- please keep writing!) Poetry is essential, but there's a real life there too in the balance. Children or an office job or some other kind of ballast is frequently a very good thing.

Submissions have also come in from Chicago, Michigan, Missouri -- many of them compelling, surprising in the best way. Thank you all!

With only one or two chapbooks a year, I send out more rejections than acceptances, and wanted to highlight some resources for poets looking for encouragement and a way to keep up their daily obligations but still get some wider connection to poetry. One well-categorized and very useful resource is, from Bernadette Geyer. It's a series of how-to guides and articles and recordings of readings that is easy to dip into or to take a long nosedive into, as time allows.

One more slot filled in the tool-belt, girls!

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