Category Archives: Miscellaneous

Our Parents/Ourselves

Considering it is just after Mother’s Day, with Father’s Day looming on the horizon, I thought I’d talk about writing poems about parents. We get a lot of those type of poems at Gyroscope Review. It’s an important topic as poets work through their feelings about parents and the past – and sometimes the future. It’s a deeply personal topic, and there is a fine line between the danger of lapsing into sentimentality or letting the poem explore the theme. Writing about the loss of a parent, or a parent with cancer is a tough topic. Look for the universal in the subject. People will care a lot more about the poem if they can see themselves in it. They might be indifferent about your pain, but let them see how it’s everyone’s pain and they are on board.

Other parent poems we get are about the act of raising a child with all the cliches of childhood. Skinned knees, first dates, learning to ride a bike. How do you open that up? Approach it from a father’s point of view, or a sibling, or the skinned knee itself. Take us somewhere new. Make us see the subject in a different light, one we haven’t thought of before. What we don’t see is enough poems about the intricacies of being a parent. What it’s like to raise a special needs child, or a gender fluid child. Or a bullied child. Or an autistic child navigating the everyday world. Put us in your sneakers. As a parent, how do you approach these topics without echoing breathless news headlines?

Here are some Gyroscope Review poems and the issues they are in to explore:

My Bi-Polar Bear by Paul Strohm             ISSUE 18-1 WINTER 2018

Candy Colored Dreams by Deborah L. Davitt                  ISSUE 17-4 FALL 2017

Sketches of my Mother by Samuel Salerno                                   ISSUE 17-4 FALL 2017

Grendel’s Mother by Sally Zakariya                                             ISSUE 17-3 SUMMER 2017

Every Day is Mother’s Day by Alexis Rhone Fancher      ISSUE 17-1 WINTER 2017

The Man Who Explained Maps by John Grey                  ISSUE 17-1 WINTER 2017

Memorial for Miriam’s Dad (and Miriam) by Sandy Feinstein  ISSUE 16-1 WINTER 2016

Waking Daddy by Akualezli Hope                                     ISSUE 16-1 WINTER 2016

Letting Go by Barry Charman                                           ISSUE 16-1 WINTER 2016

Mother’s and Father’s Day make everyone hyper-focus on tradition—cards, ties, a bouquet of flowers.  Dig deeper. What if, as a parent, or a child, you never gave or received any gift on those days? How would you feel? Does acknowledgement matter? Has it torpedoed a relationship? Is it revenge for an imagined slight? Self-preservation?

Parents aren’t as simplistic as we remember them to be. They have lives outside of their children. We often are exploring through poetry our relationship with a parent, and how it’s changed now that we’ve gotten older (and so have they). We should no longer look back with nostalgia, but with the critical eye of the poet, ready to write the truth, no matter how unpleasant it might be, or what it might reveal about ourselves. That’s a tough order. But poets are up to the challenge.

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Proletarian Poets for May Day

Today is May Day, an international spring holiday in the Northern Hemisphere. People dance around May poles, leave baskets of flowers on doors, generally celebrate the return of warm weather. There has been plenty of poetry about spring, flowers, the giddiness of the season after a long winter. And those are poems that we all need from time to time, poems that make us feel like rushing out and falling in love.

International Workers Day is another May 1 holiday first observed in 1890 to honor people killed in the Haymarket affair. The Haymarket affair refers to the labor demonstrations of 1886 when Chicago workers united in Haymarket Square in favor of an eight-hour workday with better working conditions. Violence broke out, a bomb went off. People died. And labor kept pushing for better conditions.

Plenty of literature evolved from the labor movement, some written by workers and some written by those who sympathized with workers, which makes for entirely different audiences. One genre that developed in the U.S. in the 1920s and 1930s was proletarian poetry, which offered the working-class perspective. The New Masses, a leftist magazine established in 1926, played a large role in promoting and defining proletarian poetry, as well as in encouraging working-class writers.

For this May 1, we offer you links to a bit of proletarian poetry. We suggest that this poetry has plenty of relevance today, with ties to current movements like the breakbeat poets who also take on capitalism among other things. Whether you are a worker or you sympathize with workers, there is truth and history in this literature. Take a little break, follow the links, feel these voices.

Happy May Day. Happy International Workers Day. And happy reading.

Poem in the American Manner by Dorothy Parker 
https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/58188/poem-in-the-american-manner

The crowd at the ball game by William Carlos Williams 
https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/45498/the-crowd-at-the-ball-game

Brass Spittoons by Langston Hughes 
https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/47879/brass-spittoons

Dirge by Kenneth Fearing
https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/52625/dirge-56d2313f3dcd7

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Et Tu, Scriptor?

Et Tu, Scriptor?

Did you know that March 15 has another important meaning, besides it being the day Julius Caesar was assassinated in Rome in 44 BC? The Romans also observed this day as a deadline for settling debts.

It’s a good time for writers to settle their debts also. Especially the ones they have with themselves. I know, I know, you’ve been meaning to submit those poems to various markets, but . . . the weather was nice so you went outside, laundry needed to be done, or there was chocolate at the grocery store you just couldn’t live without. I’m sure procrastination stretches all the way back to our caveman ancestors, when Urgh put off gathering wood that day and had to sit in a cave jumping at the rustling noises in the pitch black night.

As writers we find all kinds of ways to avoid doing what we need to do when it comes to our poetry. We fear rejection, and some fear success. I’m here to pester you. Do not be like Julius Caesar and ignore the warnings deep inside. You can procrastinate yourself out of another year of submitting. Take a deep breath, and circle today on your calendar. Then go into your favorite submissions guide and find some places to submit. Circle them on your calendar. Don’t set the dates too far out. The farther away they are, the easier to ignore them.

Pick the day when you are going to sit down, read your poems, edit your best poems, read submissions guidelines, then submit your best poems. Editors love to see new work. We live for the day when we click on a waiting poem in the slush and are just wowed. It’s what keeps us going, the chance to be the first to spot a gem. That could be you. Settle that debt with yourself, silence the little voice that says you can’t. You can. You will. You must.

When someone tells you your work is good, submit. When you think your poem is ready, submit. When you’ve sculpted your magnum opus, submit. It’s the best way to move forward. Your poems are the Julius Caesars of the world. Get out your assassination knives, carve that poetry into a bloody beauty. We’ll be looking for it in the slush pile when Gyroscope Review reopens for summer submissions on April 1.

 

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About Poetry Resources

Last week on our Instagram account (@gyroscopereview), we ran a series of helpful resource books for poets that people seemed to like quite a lot. We’ve also noticed that writers love blogs that publish interviews with editors – we see them shared around Facebook all the time. Facebook, by the way, offers multiple groups that share and support writers. So, we thought it might be time to run an article that brings a few of these resources together in one place.

We’ll start with the list of poetry resource books we ran on Instagram. Here they are:

Ordinary Genius by Kim Addonizio

the poetry dictionary by John Drury

The Making of a Poem: A Norton Anthology of Poetic Forms by Mark Strand and Eavan Boland

The Poetry Home Repair Manual by Ted Kooser

A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver

There are many, many other resources, of course; A Poet’s Glossary by Edward Hirsch comes to mind, a comprehensive volume of poetic forms and terms. There are resources like The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron that, while not specifically for poets, pushes writers and artists of all sorts to rethink their creative work. Find what works for you, for your lifestyle and learning style.

Next, let’s talk about blogs and websites. There are so many helpful options for poets that we know we cannot cover them all. We’ll give you a few of the well-known ones below and you can find more from there.

The Alchemist’s Kitchen – Poetry, Travel, and the Creative Writing Life   – This blog, run by poet Susan Rich, not only has inspiring posts, but also offers the opportunity to buy services for poets (editing, coaching, how to do a grant proposal, etc.) on a sliding fee scale.

The Music In It: Adele Kenny’s Poetry Blog – This blog offers poetry prompts and guest bloggers from the poetry community. The post from February 10 discussed preparing for publication.

Poetic Asides – Writer’s Digest poetry editor Robert Lee Brewer runs this blog with poetry prompts, discussions of various poetic forms, and other tidbits for poets.

Poetry Foundation – This website is one of our favorites. Learn about poets and poems of all sorts. You can listen, too. They are also the folks who will send a poem a day to your email inbox. And the Poetry Foundation blog, Harriet, discusses poetry and related news.

Poets & Writers Blogs – Here you can find calls for submission, grant deadlines, workshop information, and more. By the way, the Poets & Writers website has a tab called, “Find Your Community”. It has directories for writers, literary events, MFA programs and more.

Trish Hopkinson – Trish’s blog consistently delivers a series of places to submit, particularly places with no reading fees, publishes interview with editors, and has guest bloggers. (Bonus: a Gyroscope Review editors interview will be available on the site this week.)

For a comprehensive list of blogs by poets and writers, visit the list that New Pages put together here: https://www.newpages.com/writers-resources/poets-and-writers-blogs

There are many groups that offer news and support. Facebook is full of those – simply do a search for poetry groups and you’ll find all sorts of options. Search #poetsofinstagram to find posts related to poetry on Instagram. Search #poetrycommunity on Twitter. Hashtags are quite useful to search for other poets, calls for submission, deadlines, etc. Follow your favorite poetry journals on whatever social media you use the most. And don’t be afraid to ask for group members who might be interested in looking at your work to give feedback.

Finally, if you need a nudge now and then, prompts are posted by many journals and poets, including us. Visit our Instagram feed every Sunday morning to get a new prompt for the week, or look up our hashtags, #promptsforpoets and #GRcultivatepoetry to get the whole list. We repost them on Facebook and Twitter, too.

Remember, resources are abundant. The poetry community is a large and welcoming place. And you, dear poets, all have your place in it.

 

image courtesy of Pixabay.com

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