Category Archives: poetry

Rejection. Ooh, a sticker!

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The Normal SchoolGood evening, mail.

I submitted poems last month to The Normal School, a new literary magazine from CSU Fresno. The fledgling publication intrigued me a few months back when I first received word of its submissions call. Though I couldn’t have a look at a back issue (with the inaugural issue coming out Fall 2008), I figured the chances that this Normal bunch would come out with a nicely done pub were pretty good, especially since the website’s color scheme is a near-match to that of my living room (hmmm…tasteful!), and I thought I should try to submit something. Of course, I then promptly let that to-do slip away as so many others have. The last-call call came around last month by email, to which I submitted, and then just as promptly received an auto-reply stating that, due to the overwhelming number of electronic submissions, only postal submissions would be accepted and email submissions would remain unread. Oh.

But by then, I was inexplicably driven by Central Valley poetic ambitions, here explicated: I’ve lately felt nostalgic about seemingly disregarded or forlorn areas of California; true and imagined “vaca” “villes”; culture outside of major cities; my own origins in Sacramento; planned family visits to Modesto and experiencing nothing to do there; the biases I have about these places (and Fresno) as geographical punctuations for Wal-Mart instead of art and literature; and also reading about Lee Herrick‘s recent, heartening launch of another issue of In The Grove (also out of Fresno), which contains work by fellow Intergenerational Writers Lab poet, Oscar Bermeo, as well as Facebook friends with shared OCHO #16 pages, Craig Perez and Sasha Pimentel Chacón.

So, despite postal submissions being kind of a hassle and probably wasteful as to time, money and tree product, I printed out my former email submission and submitted via the post, with a SASE. Well, that envelope was returned today with a thinness that betrayed its sealed contents. The envelope contained a pleasant rejection (as shown here and here). And a sticker. First two reactions: 1. Oh well, a rejection. 2. Oh! A sticker!

It is way, way cooler than an “I Voted [American flag]” sticker one gets at their polling place on designated Tuesdays. Even those I don’t get anymore now that I vote by absentee ballot.

The point being, that, despite receiving a rejection slip so many poets and writers know all too well, my 5th-grade, sticker-album, Care-Bears self was totally won over by the fact that the editors sent me a sticker:

Normal School rejection sticker

Gocco Joy! A mini-chapbook bound and finished.

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Gocco Chapbook CoverLong craft-deprived, I finally took this past weekend to crack the knuckles, pull out my Print Gocco and complete a chapbook project for twenty-one Kundiman fellows who exchanged poems written on postcards for the month of September 2007. Ten poets contributed their small-size poems.

Mini-chapbook gutsAfter months of mulling it over, conceiving of it and mostly just not getting around to it, I charged forward last weekend by visiting SCRAP, hoping to find some different papers or envelopes at rock-bottom, re-use prices. The warehouse had several reams of textured cover stock in a beige-type color. Not sexy, but I thought it’d contrast well with the ream of turquoise copy paper I got at Staples a few months back for the purposes of chapbook-making and paper projects in general.

Gocco bulbsFast forward one weekend later. I layed out and edited the interior of the booklet on Adobe Pagemaker on Saturday night, went to OfficeMax for double-sided copying Sunday morning. (Tip: OfficeMax offered color paper at the self-service copiers for the same price as regular white copy paper, but I did not partake as I’d already brought my turquoise paper). Sunday afternoon I created the Gocco-ready cover image, then flashed the screen with these Gocco bulbs pictured here as glistening still-life in the Sunday afternoon light.

Gocco printerStella Artois for Gocco SundayThe covers were printed on the Gocco using brown and pearlescent aqua inks.  Sunday night, albeit with an interlude at The Fillmore (Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks), I completed binding, with brown linen thread, an edition of 40 baby chapbooks for contributors, postcard writers and Kundiman-related folk. Other helpful project materials included a Stella.

Postcard Poems by Kundiman poets chapbook

The product specs for this little chappy, “Postcard Poems by Kundiman poets” ({bee + spool} press 2008): Dimensions 4.25″ (w) x 5.5″ (h). 16 pages.  Edition of 40.

Quite the Handsome Chap Mrs. (Review #4 for National Poetry Month)

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Mrs. MaybeHere’s poetry review #4 for National Poetry Month. Previously posted, reviews 1 , 2 and 3.

Pegasus Books Downtown is proving to be fertile ground for limited edition, locally-produced chapbooks and journals, including my own DIY chap, which it is carrying as of this past Thursday. (Thanks, Clay Banes!) A find this week is the I-got-the-last-one-there, 100-quantity poetry journal Mrs. Maybe (Issue 1) edited by Lauren Levin and Jared Stanley. The 46-page publication includes their poems as well as two by Sandra Lim (author of Loveliest Grotesque, a recent (2006) Kore Press first book award winner) and the work of thirteen others. Bearing creamy ecru pages under navy cardstock, I was drawn to the cover that looked possibly like a Gocco-job (a device near and dear to my heart), or other screenprinting process. With a circulation of a hundred, the journal is small and handsome. This is no mere superficial consideration, as I discussed one recent evening with Barb and Oscar on the wondrousness of small-press publishing and the sadness of the chapbook contests and micropress outfits out there that really miss the mark (sometimes quite literally, as when the a poet’s work is published with poor page-gutter considerations, mis-stapling, toner-streaked pages, etc.).

Onto the guts: The array is fairly diverse, with poems committed to the structure of stanzas to prose poems to more experimental forms. What catches my eye at times tends to be the familiar, so, having read Lim’s Loveliest Grotesque, I’ll pick out her “Please, Don’t Call Me Sandy” to excerpt, where she writes on name as identity, but identity as undetermined and incomplete:

First, “It just wears me down. / A used-car salesman / my whole life. / A dog in a Broadway musical. // Oh what a feeling. What a pale furry feeling this is.”

And last, “For what did I know of anything, / shedding & barking, / lying on the floor / like this, calling my name.”

Issue 1 seems a little insular, a private affair amongst a small group who nod at you from the bookshelf, but aren’t exactly extending their palms for a handshake and introductions; missing from this first volume are the journal’s mission and the poets’ biographical notes, though the origin of the journal’s name is explained on the last page.

While the supply of Mrs. Maybe is dwindling around local Bay Area bookstores, there “may be” issues 2 and 3 in the works, according to the journal’s blog.