The Talking Stick 17 Now Available

The Talking Stick 17: Vanishing Point is now available for purchase. My poem Minnesota and my flash fiction piece False Hope appear in this edition of The Talking Stick, a Minnesota literary journal published annually by The Jackpine Writer's Bloc. It is an excellent read, filled with some interesting poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction from emerging and established Minnesotan writers.

You can read all about the talented writers who have contributed to this issue of The Talking Stick by clicking here, and/or purchase your own copy by clicking here.

The Insomniac’s Lullaby

The newest issue of Bent Pin Quarterly is online, and my poem The Insomniac’s Lullaby is amongst the fine work featured in it. Click here to check out my latest published piece, then look around at the rest of Bent Pin Quarterly. The interesting bait on this journal’s hook is its philosophy – rather than giving each piece its own separate page, BPQ puts two or three works of a similar tone or subject matter on the same page, allowing them to rub together and create friction, fire, confusion, or whatever. Cool idea, and I’m glad to be a part of this issue.

Poem Published Online at The Shine Journal

My poem Tell me Lies in a Dead Language is now online at The Shine Journal. You can read it by clicking here. Big thanks again to editor Pamela Tyree Griffin for the chance to “shine” in her publication.

This poem deviates a little from my usual style (it’s more disjointed and less direct), but it tackles a tough subject – spousal abuse. This poem’s appearance in The Shine Journal is timely given that October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

The Shine Journal was voted by the Writer’s Digest Reader’s Poll as one of the “Best Websites for Writers.” It also placed in the top ten of the 2007 Preditors and Editors poll. After reading Tell me Lies in a Dead Language, take some time to look around this month’s issue of The Shine Journal and enjoy the diverse, exceptional poetry and flash fiction. You’ll enjoy it. Trust me.

What Is Between Us

My flash fiction piece What Is Between Us is now online at miniStories. You can read it by clicking here. Oh, and once again, this is another piece that failed as a poem, but through revision became a decent flash fiction piece. Seems to be a pattern – I’ve had several of those this year so far.

The person who posted it online declares that What Is Between Us “ explores the tensions and inextricable connections woven through the ties that bind us.” Word. :)

miniStories is's quarterly flash fiction competition. This literary series is coordinated by Electric Arc Radio's Geoff Herbach (author of newly released novel, The Miracle Letters of T. Rimburg, published by Three Rivers Press), and it showcases previously unpublished short stories by Minnesota writers. These winning short-short stories are selected by authors, editors, and publishing industry veterans from across the country. Winning miniStories are published on and in the e-magazine access+ENGAGE .

I’m happy to be a part of this round of miniStories and was energized by the miniStories reading that I participated in on July 27 – it was electric. I hope I get a chance to contribute again to miniStories. Which means I have to get off my butt and finish my submission for the next round, since it’s due by the end of September. Be good…

New Hampshire rocks. And so does the Ouroboros Review.

Honestly, I know little about the state of New Hampshire and whether it rocks or not. What I do know is my poem Hello Songs was awarded first prize in the Poetry Society of New Hampshire’s August 2008 National Contest. From the contest rules I’ve deduced that this entitles me to a nice cash prize and the chance to have Hello Songs published in The Poet’s Touchstone, a quarterly magazine. That’s enough for me to repeat my original statement – New Hampshire rocks. Thanks to the contest coordinator Lynne Birdsall for this opportunity and also to judge Mark DeCarteret for deeming my work worthy of this award.

And I received news of another acceptance yesterday – my poem Truth will appear in the inaugural edition of the Ouroboros Review, a new journal of poetry and art. Ouroboros intends to publish an online review quarterly and will offer a print magazine twice a year. I’m excited for the chance to contribute to this new publication – thanks to editors Jo Hemmant and Christine Swint for the chance to contribute.

It looks like folks can still submit to the Ouroboros Review, and the editors seem friendly and gave a prompt response . Of course, this is a fledgling publication, so the editors will have plenty of time to become overly highbrow, stodgy, condescending, and unresponsive in the future (just kidding). If you are a poet or artist who is interested in this publication, you can check out their submission guidelines by clicking here.

If you call yourself a writer, then write.

As a writer, as well as in life, I practice the Japanese philosophy of Kaizen, continual improvement by taking small steps.

Adhering to this principle, I don’t intentionally set out trying to write a book manuscript. I simply write a page here and there, sometimes just a paragraph, and sometimes only a sentence or a phrase. But I attempt to do that daily, and I find the small steps add up to a greater journey. True, I often have to sift through some awful pieces of prose and crappy poetic pieces to find something that I have the nerve to send out to publishers. But that is part of the greater journey that I just mentioned.

It’s about continuous progress as a writer, even when I fall short of capturing everything my mind was trying to express. No matter what happens, good or bad, I just keep writing.

That is the point. If you call yourself a writer, then write – don’t just talk about writing, do it. Don’t get all wrapped up in what magazine rejected your story, what contest snubbed your poem, or who booed you off the stage at a local poetry slam. Within each failure is a success, because you are busy doing while other people are reacting. Take from their reaction, grow, and then try again.

Brothers in Verse: Five Essays on Black Masculinity in American Poetry

I stumbled upon this on the web and found all five of these essays to be amazing.  I figured that some other African-American poets (and maybe poets of other races, too) may find these to be interesting reads, so I am sharing.  Enjoy.

Brothers in Verse: Five Essays on Black Masculinity in American Poetry

To Make a Man - Camille Dungy

Meditation on a Black Male Poetic - Tyehimba Jess

Maybe You should be an Emcee: Black Poetry as Has-Been Protest - Adrian Matejka

A Way of No Way: Toward Constructing a Black Male Poetic - Gregory Pardlo

Masters and Master Works - Afaa M. Weaver

Tell Me Lies in a Dead Language

My poem Tell Me Lies in a Dead Language will be in the October 2008 edition of The Shine Poetry Journal, an online journal that showcases flash fiction, poetry, art, and photography.  The Shine Journal was voted by Writer's Digest Reader's Poll as one of the "Best Websites for Writers" and also placed in the top ten of the 2007 Preditors & Editors Poll.  Needless to say I am excited for this chance to contribute - thanks to editor Pamela Tyree Griffin for this opportunity.

One Writer's Nightmare

If you are a poet who is actively submitting manuscripts to contests and/or open reading periods, take a few minutes and check out this very scary story about the actions of an (allegedly) unethical press and a debacle of a contest.  I can definitely empathize with this writer's cautionary tale.  It could almost make someone paranoid to send out their manuscript, if it wasn't for the urge to find success and to share an artistic vision with the world.  An interesting read.

Upcoming Publication - 95Notes

My poem Personal Errata will appear in an upcoming edition of 95Notes. 

95Notes is an independent Literary Magazine started by Chicago State University writing students to represent creative writers within the literary community.  Many thanks to the editorial staff for including my work in their literary vision.

Acceptance to miniStories + upcoming reading

Just found out my microfiction piece What is Between Us was selected by to be included in the miniStories series. I appreciate this opportunity; a big thanks to miniStories coordinator Geoff Herbach and everyone else involved with the competition.

miniStories is a quarterly flash fiction competition coordinated by Electric Arc Radio's Geoff Herbach (author of The Miracle Letters of T. Rimburg, Three Rivers Press). This literary series showcases previously unpublished short stories by Minnesota writers which are selected by authors, editors, and publishing industry veterans from across the country. Winning stories are then published on and in the e-magazine access+ENGAGE. I’ll post something here on my blog once my story is unveiled on the internet.

As part of the whole miniStories shebang, I’ve been invited to read my story at the miniStories reading on Monday, July 27 at 7 PM. The reading will be at the Ritz Theater, 345 13th Ave NE, in Minneapolis . If you are in the Twin Cities and have a craving to experience literary ecstasy, stop by…the lineup of authors reading their stories looks amazing and it is sure to be a great time.

The Poetics Noire: Volume I

Great news - I recently found out one of my poems titled Survival Tactics is slated to be part of an anthology called The Poetics Noire: Volume I.  Much thanks to editor Britany Elise Rickett for deciding to include my piece.

The Poetics Noire: Volume I is an anthology dedicated the promoting the minority point of view.  This book is not dedicated to only portraying how minorities feel on given issues; it is about helping to rid stereotypes of ALL people through art.  Sounds like an ambitious book that our world really needs, which is why I am excited about the chance to contibute.

According to the website, submissions are still being accepted for this anthology.  Click here to check out more info on this future publication if you are interested.

New Poem at Prairie Poetry

prairie.jpgDespite the lack of posts lately, I'm not dead.  Trust me.  In fact, I can even supply proof of my continued existence:  a new poem published online over at Prairie Poetry called Finding Religion on Interstate 80

Prairie Poetry has been online since 1996, offering bi-monthly images and poetry from and of the North American plains - poems to feed the vast open places of the soul.  Click here to check out my poem or here to check out the July 2008 edition of Prairie Poetry.

How Poetry Can Influence Prose, and Vice Versa

Note: This was originally posted on 4/21/08 at the Scribes' Tribe Scribbings blog as part of an April poetry workshop.

I’ve learned to never throw any writing away – always recycle. Why? Because out of a bad poem may exist the plot of a decent short story; similarly, a strong descriptive paragraph in a scrapped fiction piece may be a poetic gem waiting to be unearthed.

quill.jpgSince I write both verse and prose, I often teeter on which one should be used to express an idea. One thing is clear: I fail miserably when I try to cram a 2000-word story into a twenty line poem, and I ruin plot development with ten-sentence paragraphs about the weather in the middle of a fiction piece.

Yet I cannot claim to control my muse, or tell it exactly what to create. Therefore, I continue writing and deal with this issue during editing. Often when I struggle with a poem, I may be trying to say too much within it. If I’m on the computer, this is when I “save as,” give the work an alternate title, delete all line breaks, put in standard punctuation, and then attempt to fill in the blanks that are naturally left vacant by poetry, but must be filled in to make prose. It doesn’t always work, but when it does it produces strong results.

One example is a micro-fiction piece that I wrote last year titled “Details of an Author’s Divorce,” published at an online magazine/blog called Six Sentences, where all the works are exactly (you guessed it) six sentences. This piece, which started out as a poem, developed into flash fiction. Its metamorphosis followed the aforementioned blueprint. The original version of “Details…” told the story of an author’s failed marriage through a free verse poem. It was an interesting concept, but the piece was clumsy and wordy. I put it aside, but then kept studying it periodically. It had too many vivid images for me to just discard it. So I deleted the line breaks, added transitions to give it a prose skeleton, and then started editing it as fiction instead of poetry. The first place where I submitted it promptly rejected it, which made me revise yet again – I discovered that I had edited a little too much out of the piece.

After some tinkering, “Details…” told the entire tale that was too lumbering to explain through poetry. I submitted it to Six Sentences and it was accepted; you can see the finished work at What makes it work (at least to me) is the richness of the description that’s derived from its poetic roots, coupled with the fiction structure that tells the complete story without it being awkward.

This transformation can also be performed vice versa, from prose to poetry. I’ll sometimes spot a paragraph in a draft of a story that drones on about the landscape, only to realize I’ve abandoned the plot during that paragraph. Once I cut out some of that imagery, I’ll often save it for another project where that level of description is needed. It may be another story, or I might toss in some line breaks and see if this descriptive leftover can stand alone as a poem.

I wonder if this is something others may have done. It has definitely become a key component of my process and a contributor to my development as a writer.

May Update – 100 Works in 2008

I stated on my blog awhile back that it is my goal to write 100 creative pieces in 2008. It is also my goal to publish that many works, but let’s just focus on what I can control – I can’t account for editors’ tastes.

Right now I am on track to meet that 100 works goal. I count 48 pieces of work that I’ve wrote or rebuilt so far in 2008, and a good deal of them have been published or are forthcoming in journals.

The inventory: 32 free verse poems, 9 prose poems, 3 short stories, 1 creative non-fiction/ranting piece. I am also going to count the 3 lectures I wrote on writing and the creative process during my poetry workshop/guest blogging stint over at the Scribes’ Tribe Scribblings website.

Hopefully I can keep up this workrate. Although I admit there are a few throwaway pieces in the bunch (and a few that need major revising), most of this work is up to par with my previous writing and is currently touring the submission and contest circuit trying to find a home in some magazine, journal, website, or whatever. Fingers crossed.

Such is the life of a writer, I suppose. Be good…

Two Poems at Denver Syntax

The Spring 2008 issue of Denver Syntax is now online.  Denver Syntax is a literary, art, and music review based out of (you guessed it) Denver.  The writing in it is edgy and provacative, and its format and style are top notch, in my humble opinion.

Anyway, I am lucky enough to be in this kick-ass issue of Denver Syntax.  I have two poems included in the issue, When I Speak of Life and Burn Everything Down and Start Over.  Much thanks to editor Jonathan Bitz for the chance to contribute.  Go on check out my poems and the whole issue.  C'mon, it's just a click away.  You know you want to.