Wednesday, April 25, 2007

CFS: WATERSHED: A Journal of the Susquehanna

Watershed: a Journal of the Susquehanna is an interdisciplinary annual print and online journal, with its debut issue slated for late 2007 publication. The journal’s mission is to promote the culture, history, environment, literature, and art of the Susquehanna watershed region, which includes parts of upstate New York, much of Pennsylvania, and parts of Maryland leading to the Chesapeake. We seek thought-provoking nonfiction on regional history, cultural and environmental issues, and top quality and inventive poetry and fiction. While contributors need not reside in the Susquehanna region, the work must evoke the Susquehanna and its hills, valleys, and, most importantly, its people. Of course, these influences could be as varied as the geography of the watershed.

Prose should be double-spaced, while poetry may be single spaced. Black and white artwork and photography should be reduced to a 5” by 7” format (or smaller if appropriate) and sent as electronic files. Electronic submissions are preferred, with text in MS Word format. Submission deadline is July 15. Contributors will receive three copies. For more information, contact Jerry Wemple via email at

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Bigger Fish

My "Fish" peppers are growing nicely in their egg carton, though the attic is starting to get a bit too warm. The mature plants have neat striped and swirled foliage; so far, these are uniformly green. We're at that tricky stage where I really want to repot them into individual containers but lack the room to accommodate so many plants. I want a greenhouse.
Hmmm. . . I just noticed, in the closeup photo, that something has taken a couple of bites from a leaf!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Just a word

Just a word before I toddle up to bed: spring! The weekend presented us with stunning, beautiful weather; I felt ridiculous trying to grade papers out on the patio, using small stones from the garden to weight down the pages from the wind, glancing up at every bird jostling in the privet hedge or crabapple tree. The hammock called. The garden called. I did a little weeding and raked half the perennial bed, then graded some more. Sunday was as gorgeous as Saturday had been; as the evening light diminished I hurried outside one last time to pull a few weeds (okay, they weren't weeds, but an explosively invasive ground cover that--I confess--I introduced two years ago into the garden; I can't remember the name but I will look it up; I really thought it would look delightful there with its bright, almost metallic yellow buttercup-like blooms, but the darned thing sends endless runners and I think, oh yikes, it even re-seeds), a bucketful, lying along the brick path and gently tugging them out one by one as I tried not to disturb the species tulips (which are absurdly delicate, with flopsy leaves that break off easily but really wonderful single yellow flowers that start off as pale downward-pointing beaks on wiry sinuous stems--the stems gradually extend to hold the buds erect; they're not like your average big honking Dutch tulips; very small but bright).

If it grows cold and snowy again I shall lie down in protest. The bumblebees are zooming; the chickadees are--well, they're fucking: it's amazing how much fuss and commotion two tiny birds can make in midair; the Japanese maple is just about to burst open; the railroad tracks are littered with chartreuse clusters of fallen maple blossoms; the lawns are dotted with early sweet violets; and I'm just about ready to roll around, nibble some grass and positively neigh.

[photo: maple blossom along railroad track, 4.23.07]

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Fitting it all in

Oh, get your minds out of the gutter. I was just thinking that it's been almost a week since I went to Lock Haven, where they treated us exceptionally well: nice group dinner beforehand, *reserved* parking spaces on campus *next* to the venue (whoda thunkit?), and a good-sized audience: mostly students who seemed to have read at least some of the work ahead of time. Oh, and the check was nice, too. Thanks again to Marjorie, Jerry, and the LHU English Department. And it's never too late to buy a copy of the Common Wealth anthology: click here for more information and a "buy it" link.

* * *

Randy is on a well-earned break, a road trip to visit an old friend from our Houston days (hello, Hadi!). I haven't gone out yet for junk food, so I may be handling this better than expected. We rarely--and I mean, rarely--spend a day apart, and I can think of only one occasion in recent years when Randy took a road trip (hi, Martin). I've been lucky enough to give a few readings or trek to AWP every other year. . . Anyway, I've a stack of papers to attend to, so the television stays off tonight. We've about two weeks left in the semester: I'm meeting with three or four students every day, there's a lot of West Branch business that needs my attention [final editorial decisions for "my" issue will be made on the 27th], and all the details of the June Seminar are being put into place. (Writing, you ask? Who has time to write? --I asked my students to write ghazals this week, and, unable to find three solid examples that didn't take too many liberties with the form, I ended up dashing off example #3. I called it "Spontaneous Ghazal." Does that count?) (Does this?)

* * *

Today, in my intro cw class, we studied Thomas Rabbitt's "Meter Reader*." I'm introducing slant rhyme tomorrow and Thursday. They're writing quatrains for next week and sonnets after that. I almost wish we had an extra month.
*-see Behn & Twichell, The Practice of Poetry

* * *

"Daily poem" for today's class: I read Jill Rosser's "Lover Release Agreement," from her second book, Misery Prefigured. She can work a mean sonnet:

Lover Release Agreement

Against his lip, whose service has been tendered

lavishly to me, I hold no lien.

Here's his heart, which finally has blundered

from my custody. Here's his spleen.

Hereafter let your hair and eyes and breasts

be venue for his daydreams and his nights.

Here are smart things I've said, and all the rest

you'll hear about. Here are all our fights.

Now, whereas I waive rights to his kiss,

the bed you've shared with him has rendered null

his privilege in mine. Know that, and this:

undying love was paid to me in full.

No matter how your pleasures with him shine,

you'll always be comparing them to mine.

Best comment in class today: the "Oh, SNAP!" someone uttered after hearing the poem.

* * *

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

New Bloom

The new issue of Bloom finally arrived about a week ago; I had to set it aside to focus on some deadlines. Just getting back to it--bit by bit, as I usually read journals (How do you read journals? Does anyone actually go cover-to-cover?)--and I'm happy to see a couple of nice sonnets by Brad Gooch (whose work I love) and Jeff Crandall (whose work I'd love to get to know).

Nice cover, too.

* * *

Speaking of covers, the advance copy of West Branch arrived in the offices today: it looks terrific. (Click here to see the cover image by Harold Reddicliffe.)

* * *

Cynthia Hogue and Bob Taylor gave a wonderful reading tonight in Bucknell Hall. It was delightful to have them back.

* * *

Monday, April 09, 2007

Lock Haven Wednesday

I'm heading over with Deirdre O'Connor to Lock Haven University on Wednesday night to take part in the Common Wealth reading: joining us will be former colleague Cynthia Hogue, who is in town to read at Bucknell Hall on Tuesday night with Robert Love Taylor.

* * *
Yes, I'm leaving West Branch in a month. Yes, we'll get back to you on anything you haven't gotten word on yet. In fiction, we're full up, so I'm closing down those submissions a week early. We're still reading through what's come in, still talking about several stories, so this does not mean "abandon hope" if'n yer still waitin'. . .

* * *
Meanwhile, is anyone looking for a guest editor?

Monday, April 02, 2007

Still here

Well after a series of somewhat contradictory e-mails, I accepted the offer to teach my "Poetry, Identity, Community" course again this fall at Bucknell. On the plus side (believe it or not), the class meets on T/R mornings at 8:00, so I'll be done at 9:30 and can hole up in my office (wherever that may be) and grade papers. Of course I'll revise the course this summer (I always do), but I need to select books very soon. I'm thinking I'll use chapbooks again, along with some online essays and audio.

* * *
I saw a beautiful ribbon snake this afternoon on campus: it was sunning on some rocks along the creek that runs past Bucknell Hall. Maybe 16 inches long, a bit muddy. Taking advantage of the yummy warm temps and sunny day. I knelt on the sidewalk and talked to it for a while as I fished in my bookbag for the camera. It raised up, swiveled its head and opened its mouth in a kind of hacking gesture, all the while flicking its tongue to gauge my scent. I took only one photo--too far away--and before I could zoom, la serpiente threaded down between some stones and disappeared beneath the leaves.

* * *
New favorite workout song: Joan Osborne's "Hurricane." I remember being totally bummed when Joan's "Relish" was eclipsed by Alanis Morrisette's "Jagged Little Pill" at the Grammys (way back when). To tell the truth, I haven't kept up with her music, but I recently downloaded some tracks from "Righteous Love" and can't get enough of this song (or of her ass-kicking "My Love Is Alive" cover). My girl is hot!

* * *
Re-reading Mary Ruefle's Indeed I Was Pleased With the World (new from Carnegie Mellon). I can't think of another living poet whose vision is so acutely attuned; she just blows me away time and time again. I can't put this book down; I drink from it and want more. Here is "My Timid Eternity":

I am thinking how lonesome it will be in Heaven
with only George Washington and me there.
I suppose we will recite the Beatitudes
and wonder when they are coming--
the meek, the merciful, the peacemakers,
those who are pure in heart.
Roasting marshmallows in the evening
I will broach the subject of lies.
He will hand me a wig
and some leeches, which I will decline,
still thinking about the others--
if they went to the Babies Camp by mistake
we could maybe get a letter out.
Heaven should not be full of worry
but if anyone knows more about it than this,
if you have your own version--
leafy, airy, full, fountainous--
bless you, you are more lonesome
than either the General or I.

* * *
And here are the concluding lines of "Quick Note About the Think Source":

The rest is almost history: volcanic holes, small
French paintings, one-eyed bats, a handwritten note
wedged between the doors of a church. And oh, one
more thing: when asked, if you say "I do not dance,"
the next day an infant is born without feet.

* * *