Tag Archives: poetry

Graduate From Unpublished to Published Poet

One of the hardest jobs an editor has to do is say no to the majority of submissions that cross their desk. Yes, that’s right: the majority. 

There are a lot of reasons for this, many of which we include in our responses to hopeful poets whose work we decline: poem is not in a style we publish, it’s out of season, it’s already available all over the internet. But by far the biggest reason for declining work is that the poems aren’t ready.

For aspiring poets who have given us work that they feel is wonderful stuff, a result of their own passion and vision, this is a hard realization. But it is the most important realization that must be acknowledged if a poet is ever to graduate to the status of published poet. We are so disappointed when we read a piece that shows great promise, but the end feels slapped on or as if the poet just ran out of steam and the piece dwindles away. Or if a poet hasn’t found the right words, settling instead for vague descriptors: beautiful, lovely, awesome, big, small, dark, standard. You get the not-a-picture. Passive voice, too many adjectives or adverbs instead of specific verbs, exclamation points or ellipses in place of better word choice – these all kill poems. Too many words when just a few will do drag the reader down; distilling the poem to the only words necessary is a must.

You know what you have to do. Really. You may have even heard this before.

Revise. 

Revise. 

Revise. 

Read. 

Read.

Read.

Share your work with people who have language skills and an ear for rhythm. Hear critiques as the helpful tools they are rather than as harsh criticism. Return to the work with a commitment to making it better and stifle any reactionary cry that this work is simply beyond the understanding of those who said no to it. People who offer critiques and people who serve as editors do their work out of love for language and a hope that they will help people be the best artist they can be. No one does this to kill dreams as far as we know.

Read poetry. Read more. And read more after that. Choose poetry that is published where you would like to be published. We can’t stress this idea enough. Here at Gyroscope Review, we are occasionally surprised by a submission that tries to use old English or has a Victorian tone, neither of which fit a contemporary journal. Acquire books of poetry by those who produce the kind of work that interests you. Are you hoping to be a contemporary poet? Then aside from reading Gyroscope Review, go read Mary Oliver, Billy Collins, Claudia Rankine, James Longenbach, Danez Smith, Ocean Vuong. Find the Button Poetry YouTube channel and hear what is being produced right now. Search for contemporary poets on the Poetry Foundation’s website. There are many options for finding published work that fits any interest. 

Remember that poets do not live in a vacuum, that poetry is an art that poets work at and hone. Anyone can produce underdeveloped art that cannot connect with an audience. Not everyone is in love with poetry enough to break through to that accomplished space where the work is accepted for publication. 

There is no shame in learning that poetry is not your calling. But if you choose to continue on the path of the poet, then enough humility to know that all of us on this path keep learning and improving, keep listening and observing, is essential. Think of this as your graduation speech in this month of graduations all over the country. Your education as a poet is only beginning. It is up to you to make use of it.

UPCOMING DATES:

Gyroscope Review’s reading period for the 2018 summer issue closes on June 15.

The summer issue will be available on July 1.

The reading period for the fall issue opens on July 1.

The reading period for the special fall themed section, “The Crone”, also opens for women, and people who identify as women, who are over the age 50 on July 1.

 

Images courtesy of Pixabay.com

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Wild Places for Wild Poets

Today is the anniversary of the creation of Yellowstone National Park. Established on March 1, 1872, Yellowstone was the first national park in the world, a place set aside as a public park…for the benefit and enjoyment of the people (wording from The Yellowstone National Park Protection Act).

In thinking about this place, a place I visited both as child and adult, I remember the way Yellowstone grabbed me by both shoulders with its magnificence. Mountains. Gorges. Rivers. Elk. Bears. Moose. Geysers. Eagles. Bison. Lodgepole pines. I remember taking pictures, but found it difficult to capture what I saw. So much was missing from those photos – the smells, the sounds, the feel of the air. The best they could do was offer a nudge to go there in person, see what the place evoked, and let it reach a person’s heart.

Yellowstone, and other wild places I’ve visited, show up in my poetry. Experiences hiking and lingering along a stream, watching Old Faithful shoot out a violent column of steam, or coming upon a moose with her calf are all images ripe for use. And I’ve learned that, for me, the need to unplug and go where I intentionally disconnect from social media is an absolute necessity to keep my poetry skills sharp. That’s when I observe without making comment, and when I take things in without someone else’s comments popping up in front of me.

And I’ve learned from talking with my poetry colleagues that they, too, value the way time in a wild place informs their work, shifts their perspective, makes daily stresses fall away to make room for the creative process. Wild places are the antidote we all need when we can’t take in one more bit of news.

So today, Yellowstone’s birthday, is a perfect day to head out wearing your hiking shoes, try your hand at poetry that honors wild places. A national park is a great place to start, but if you don’t live near one, find another wild place. A state park, a wildlife reserve, a path along a river that cuts through your town. Any green space set aside for the people. Poetry, too, is there for the people. Bringing the wild and the poet together is a perfect match.

One more thing. If you’re interested in poetry specifically related to national parks, the Academy of American Poets commissioned 50 poets to write poems about national parks in all 50 states to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service in 2016. You can see the list of 50 poems HERE.

Yellowstone River. Image courtesy of Pixabay.com.
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Book Review: The THIRD Voice by Eric Greinke

A Gyroscope Review Review:

The THIRD VOICE: Notes on the Art of Poetic Collaboration
by Eric Greinke
Presa Press, 84 pages, $13.95
Date of Publication: November 1, 2017


If a poet has lost the joy of wordplay, I suggest that a lively collaboration may be the antidote.

-Eric Greinke

Did you ever sit at the feet of someone, say a grandparent or some other elder in your life, who shared stories of their long life/career/travels, bask in their memories, and perhaps learn from them? That was the feeling I had throughout my reading of Eric Greinke’s new book, The THIRD Voice: Notes on the Art of Poetic Collaboration.

Greinke’s poetic career reaches back to the late 1960s and early 1970s when he was, as he writes, part of  “the local poetry avant-garde in Western Michigan” (p. 11). His poetry output skipped several years when he focused instead on his social work career, then picked up again in the new millenium with the publication of  Selected Poems 1972-2005 (Presa Press, 2005). Collaborative work was, and is, an enormous part of Greinke’s poetry.

In The THIRD Voice, Greinke looks back on his collaborations with poets Harry Smith, John Elsberg, Hugh Fox, Glenna Luschei, and Alison Stone. In language that borrows from both literary theory and the social work/therapy realms, Greinke deconstructs those collaborations so readers understand how they came about, how the work grew out of his relationship with each poet, and what Greinke ultimately learned about poetry and the art of collaboration. He shares pieces that were written in those collaborations as examples of how two different voices may come together in a third, new voice. He also discusses the many ways poetic collaboration can be structured, beginning with dialogic collaboration, which is “a form where poets write whole poems independently but in specific response to each other’s poems” (p. 17). He later segues into collaborations in which poets alternate writing each line, where the process grows organically into invented forms and sequences, and exercises where one poet might write the first, last, and title lines while the other poet writes three lines to fill in the middle of the poem. He discusses haiku and tanka sequences as collaborative projects, and the invention of one-line poems in response to a title. He explores how collaboration may be influenced by gender and age differences, and relishes balancing differences with commonalities.

Greinke’s interest in collaborations was first influenced by the 1967 publication Bean Spasms (Kulchur Press), which was a collaboration between the writers Ted Berrigan and Ron Padgett, with a little help from their friend, illustrator Joe Brainard. As Greinke sees it, Bean Spasms gave permission to have fun with poetry. And perhaps this idea is one of the biggest take-aways of The THIRD Voice. Poetry can be a lot of fun, word play is truly play, and who doesn’t like to have fun playing with others?

Poetic collaboration is more than play, of course. It offers poets so many opportunities for expanding their work and for working through tough topics. Greinke’s collaboration with his friend Hugh Fox offers a beautiful example of collaborating through grief; the two of them spent a year writing poetry together while Fox was dying of cancer. One of the resulting poems, Beyond Our Control, was constructed a line at a time, Fox and Greinke each composing every other line. Greinke considers this his best collaborative work. The poem, a 2015 Pushcart Prize nominee, illustrates how two poets might turn their grief into art and blend their voices into a third voice that good collaboration makes possible.

Overall, this gentle, nostalgic look at the poetic collaborations Eric Greinke has enjoyed over his writing life offers one of the best incentives of all for poets who are considering their options: joy. Collaborate with another poet, let it evolve organically, and reclaim the joy of word play that called to you the day you first fell in love with a poem.

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Welcome to Gyroscope Review Issue 17-4

We did it again! Another issue completed and it’s beautiful.

Our cover shot this time is of St. Paul, Minnesota, bathed in hazy golden light late on a September afternoon. Editor Kathleen Cassen Mickelson lives in the Twin Cities and is delighted that co-editor Constance Brewer, who lives in Wyoming, liked the idea of using this image.

More important is what’s inside: 35 poets from a host of places who share images in words, craft reactions to the world as it is right now, remember other places and people, and ponder how life has turned out. These are strong voices and our pages are nearly bursting with their force.

Intrigued? Then find your favorite version of this issue below and read on. Share us with your family, your friends, your neighbors and co-workers.

We are here for you.

To purchase a print edition of Gyroscope Review Issue 17-4 on CreateSpace, click HERE.

To read a PDF version on any digital device, or to find our back issues, click HERE.

Gyroscope Review print editions are also available on Amazon.

 

 

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