Q&A With Editor Anthony Frame

Five editors have generously agreed to help me with the Tupelo Press 30/30 Challenge, by providing, for a modest donation of $20, critiques of poetry. Anthony Frame, the editor of Glass Poetry Press, and poetry editor of The Indianola Review, answers a few questions for us.

Anthony Frame

Which three words best describe your favorite poetry?
Musical, sharp, open.

Would you mind sharing a bit about your background?
I’m a Midwestern, blue collar poet who spent most of his life in academia. I have English degrees (BA & MA) from The University of Toledo and I did one year of an MFA before dropping out. I spent five or so years working as an adjunct before taking a full-time job in my family’s pest control business. I write poems (and occasionally essays and reviews) and I edit Glass Poetry Press (which runs a chapbook series and an online poetry journal) and I edit the poetry section of Indianola Review.

What sets apart the poems you accept from those you turn down?
Well, I like pretty poems – so a sense of music and rhythm in the language is usually pretty important to me (though, it should be said that there are many types of music and rhythm in our language). I also like poems that have an edge. So, there’s a balancing act there between the lyrical and the gritty. I also am drawn to poems that are unexpected. If I’m not surprised after reading the poem, it is unlikely to stay with me.

If you were a poetic form, which would you be?
Either the paradelle, because I ramble and repeat myself, or the sonnet, but a faux sonnet because iambs are hard.

Do you pay much attention to cover letters? What do you like/dislike about them?
Not at first, I don’t. I read a submission first, then, later, look at the cover letter. The cover letter doesn’t matter, unless it is bad, so I recommend, as first principle, that cover letters should do no harm. Then, it is nice to know a bit about the author, especially if it informs his/her/hir work, a bit about how they found the journal, and how they plan to achieve total world domination. Or around five to six recent publications. Either is good.

List three favorite poets, an admirable animal, and your go-to beverage.
Poets: Li-Young Lee, Alison Stine, and Kazim Ali (first three on my mind – ask me again tomorrow and there will be three other equally admired poets).

Animal: kakapoo

Beverage: hot tea (I’m a teetotaler so … yeah, tea)

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Please consider supporting poetry and literary publishers (specifically Tupelo Press). Perhaps one of these incentives will entice you?

 

 

 

 

 

Q&A With Editor Jennifer Finstrom

Five editors have generously agreed to help me with the Tupelo Press 30/30 Challenge, by providing, for a modest donation of $20, critiques of poetry. Jennifer Finstrom, the poetry editor of Eclectica, answers a few questions.

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Which three words best describe your favorite poetry?
Personal, complex, and detailed.

Would you mind sharing a bit about your background?
I grew up in the Milwaukee area and lived in various places in Wisconsin until the year 2000 when I moved to Chicago. I grew up an avid reader, and my mother started taking me to the library when I was just a few months old! One of my grandmothers was a librarian, and I feel that I’ve always been surrounded by books.

What sets apart the poems you accept from those you turn down?
I ask myself if the poem is doing what it intends. I look for concrete details that let me into the world of the poem and create that world.

If you were a poetic form, which would you be?
A sonnet, but not a traditional sonnet. One of my own projects is a series of “almost sonnets,” so that’s what I’ll say I would be.

Do you pay much attention to cover letters? What do you like/dislike about them?I do like to read cover letters, and I find them interesting as a genre. I like to see something of the individual coming through.

List three favorite poets, an admirable animal, and your go-to beverage.
C.P. Cavafy, Louise Glück, and Sylvia Plath. I’m fascinated by owls and bats (when I was little, I memorized bat species). I love tea, but I need coffee.

 

Bio: Jennifer Finstrom teaches in the First-Year Writing Program and tutors writing at DePaul University. She is the poetry editor of Eclectica Magazine, and recent publications include Autumn Sky Poetry DailyEscape Into LifeGingerbread House Literary Magazine, and NEAT. For Silver Birch Press, she has work appearing in The Great Gatsby Anthology, the Alice in Wonderland Anthology, and Ides: A Collection of Poetry Chapbooks, as well as forthcoming in the Nancy Drew Anthology. 

 

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Q&A With Editor Jeff Santosuosso

Five editors have generously agreed to help me with the Tupelo Press 30/30 Challenge, by providing, for a modest donation of $20, critiques of poetry. Jeff Santosuosso, the editor of Panoply, is the first to be presented here.

 

Jeff Santosuosso

Jeff Santosuosso


Which three words best describe your favorite poetry?
Language, imagery, and rhythm. Most good poetry does one of these well. Two makes it great. Three makes it unforgettable. (Poster child: Plath’s “Alicante Lullaby.”)

Would you mind sharing a bit about your background?
I grew up in the suburbs of Boston from immigrant families and still associate closely with that connection to the American Dream, which I firmly uphold. Majored in English in college because at that age, I had no idea what to pursue. I chose English because I liked it. Good idea for me, paying more qualitative dividends as I age. Got an MBA because after my parents’ divorce (when I was about 12), we lived on government aid for a while. No way I wanted to continue on that path. Long career in business, which has taken me all over the world. I love to travel and have 2 states left to achieve a bucket list item of visiting them all (MT and ND). Got “back” into poetry about a decade ago. Been married 26 years, with a son through college and doing fine on his own. He lives in Dallas, where he first attended middle school. The local arts scene in Pensacola is healthy, but a bit fractious. It’s a small city. There’s a biennial anthology published, which is fine, but way too infrequent for me. So with two friends, we launched Panoply in 2015. It’s a thrill to edit. Some of the work is so uplifting! I’ve made some good friends via poetry, many of whom I’ve never actually met. Reminds me of pen pals. Most poets I know are introverts. Not me. Extravert. I have learned to inquire and listen. It’s hugely important in business. But I think my natural inclination gives us an advantage as we market Panoply. We read blind so that we can concentrate on the poetry, not the poet (see below) and are just as proud to debut a new voice as we are to include a Pushcart nominee.

What sets apart the poems you accept from those you turn down?
See above. I like craft, even loose craft or meandering. I’d like to infer that there’s been some deliberation. I also am partial to the unusual. If a poem makes me think and/or feel differently, unusually, I’m ready. Take me somewhere I haven’t been, or via a new route. Not afraid of rhyme or formality. Those can be refreshing.

If you were a poetic form, which would you be?
Sestina. I’m a sucker for form, and I think repetition can be a very effective tool. I am fascinated by memory and association. These days, I am focused on when and how poetry approaches song.

Do you pay much attention to cover letters? What do you like/dislike about them?
No. Not to be rude or dismissive, but I dive right into the poetry. My own cover letters are quite lacking. I “get” personal context. It can be overwhelming. In our local workshops though, one of the catchphrases we use is, “Imagine that 60 years from now some teenager in Peoria is going to pick up your poem out of the blue…”

List three favorite poets, an admirable animal, and your go-to beverage.
Poets: Robinson Jeffers, Sylvia Plath, Carl Sandburg. Go figure. (This is a bit difficult for me, as I’m an aficionado, not a scholar. I don’t really process that way. Much more intuitive, and I generally prefer poems over poets. Likewise, I love both Dali and Hopper.)

Animal: elephant. I have a predisposition to the large, apparently peaceful slow ones, like elephants and cows. Elephants have 6-chamber brains and publicly grieve.

Go-to beverage: Uh….in order of consumption: water, coffee, milk, martinis (these days with jalapeno and something sweet to counterpoint), hefeweizen. Tea in the winter. It relaxes me, even the regular stuff.

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Please consider supporting poetry and literary publishers (specifically Tupelo Press). Perhaps one of these incentives will entice you?

 

 

 

 

 

August 2016 Tupelo Press 30/30 Challenge

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In August I am participating in the Tupelo Press 30/30 challenge, a fundraiser for this outstanding nonprofit publisher. I have pledged to write 30 poems in 30 days, and to find sponsors to assist in this endeavor. If you have the time and inclination, please follow along and consider supporting poetry and literary publishers by making a donation. Every bit helps. To make this fun, and with hopes of enticing you, I’ve instituted a few incentives:

Name That Poem! For $10 donation, you provide a title, and I’ll write the poem during the marathon. Be imaginative. Make the title as long or as interesting as you wish – consider this a dare! But this incentive is limited to only thirty titles, and reduces by one every day of the marathon, so reserve your slot soon! Last year’s titles ranged from one word (“Stuck,” “Bent,” “Latitude,” “Katharsis”) to upwards of 80 (“Robert Okaji, Forced By This Title to Write a Poem in Third Person About Himself, Considers the Phenomena of Standing Waves, Dreams Involving Long-Lost Cats (Even If He Has Not Had Such a Dream Himself), And the Amazing Durability of Various Forms of Weakness, In a Meditation Which Following the Form of Certain Sung Dynasty Poets Also Happens to Be Written in a Way That Can Be Chanted to the Tune of a Popular Song of His Youth”), and also included such atrocities as “Calvin Coolidge: Live or Memorex,” “Your Armpits Smell Like Heaven,” and “Reduce Heat and Simmer Gently Without Cloud Cover, Till Sundown. Serves 2 – 7 Billion.” These last three were, of course, among my favorites to write.

Use These Words, Poet! For an $11 donation, you can offer 3 words that I must use in a poem. Why only 3? Because I’m (a) chicken (pawk, pawk!), and (b) I hate relinquishing control of my poetry’s language. Yes, yes, I know. This says horrible things about my character. But look at it this way, you could combine the first two incentives to force me to use your title AND three words that I likely wouldn’t use otherwise, which is about as much control as I’m able to give up (shuddering). Be kind. Or not.

Isn’t Broadside a Military Term? Well, yeah, but in this case it’s also a printed poem. For a $15 donation, you’ll receive sometime in September a signed broadside (printed on 8.5 x 11 paper or card stock) of any of the poems I produce during the 30-30 marathon. Your choice.

Editors, Critique My Poem! For a $20 donation, one of the participating editors, chosen at random, will critique your poem(s) (no more than three pages total, either one poem up to three pages long, a two-page poem plus a one-page poem, or three one-page poems). This is a wonderful (tax-deductible for U.S. participants) opportunity to have experienced lit mag editors examine your work and let you know what they think of it.

Participating editors include: Karen Craigo (whose recently released volume of poetry, No More Milk, is a must-read!), nonfiction editor of Mid-American Review and an associate editor of Gingko Tree Review; Jennifer Finstrom, poetry editor of Eclectica; Jeff Santosuosso, editor of Panoply; Anthony Frame, editor of Glass Poetry Press (which includes Glass: A Journal of Poetry) and poetry editor of Indianola Reviewand Matt Larrimore, Editor in Chief of Four Ties Lit Review.

Think Dink! Thanks to the generosity of Dink Press founder and editor Kristopher Taylor, $30 donation will get you the Dink Press Collection: 3 chapbooks, including my 2015 work If Your Matter Could Reform, Barton Smock’s Infant Cinema, one of the more interesting chapbooks I’ve read in the past year, Jamie Hunyor’s A New Sea, and Tim Kahl’s full length book, The String of Islands. A limited quantity is available, so order earlier rather than later.

If none of these incentives appeals to you, but you’d still like to help, I’m open to suggestions. Last year I sent signed poems to several donors, and even recorded a poem for another’s blog. Don’t limit yourself to the aforementioned incentives. Think big! Let’s have fun!

If you choose to sponsor me, please click on the links to my Tupelo Press 30/30 donation page, or after August 1, visit the 30/30 page, click on the donate button, and then my name. And please inform me of your donation and provide your contact info via email at robertokaji at yahoo dot com or through Facebook so that I may thank you and arrange or send your premium.

If you’ve seen through this blog or other outlets enough of my writing to last your remaining days, you might consider a $99 subscription to Tupelo’s regular subscription series (which I have done), which garners you nine books from one of the country’s top literary presses! This is not tax-deductible, but the quality of writing you receive with this discount is well worth it. If you choose this option, please indicate in the comments that you are subscribing to the 9 books for $99 option, specify “in honor of” and insert my name, “Robert Okaji,” to show your support for my efforts.

For more information on the 30/30 Project, and to read the daily poems, see: https://tupelopress.wordpress.com/3030-project/ I’ll likely post updates daily, but we’ll see. Things are going to be hectic. No matter what, I look forward to reading your comments. Thanks very much!

Many, many thanks to Karen Craigo, Jennifer Finstrom, Anthony Frame, Matt Larrimore, Jeff Santosuosso and Kristopher Taylor for their generous spirits and willingness to help out.

Poem on Split This Rock’s Blog

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My poem “In Response to Nadia’s Misdirected Email, I State Exactly What I’m Looking For” is up on Split This Rock’s Virtual Open Mic for Poems that Speak Against Violence and for Embrace

I posted the poem here a couple of weeks ago, but sent it on, with a few minor changes, to the Virtual Open Mic when I read their call for submissions.

 

Elegies for the Night (2002)

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Elegies for the Night (2002)
                                        for W

1
You might palm a small token, damp and misshapen as the words
you expel, never admitting the dark truth.

Or the plundered life, neither black nor white, invisible yet whole.

Someone prays, yet all around silence reigns and the snow melts.

Possibilities cleansed in the light of misplaced certainty.

2
The charred wind’s fruit bears little resemblance to its predecessor.

And later, within the garden’s stones, what remains
but an acrid taste on the tongues of the speechless?

And if the bones have dispersed where might their thoughts reside?

The wind takes nothing it does not want.

The wind wants nothing.

Nothing remains.

                    I am afraid, she said. Please tell me.

3
Though the moon returns in its diminished
state, I shall not listen. Words

turn back and eat
themselves, exposing intent

behind form, consonants beneath
vowels lying in wait. Abandonment.

And further senseless
debates: gain from loss, shock and awe,
the incessant demand for others to do

not what you would do but what you would have them do.
I claim no insight,

but even the light you reveal burns unclean.

4
Despair and its siblings fall to mind.
Scarcities: clean water, air, the simplest meal

when ashes swirl and fingers burn long after
the rain. My son, my son,

and other cries lost in the sand.
If he listened what sounds could he bear,

what sights, which odors? I tremble and lie still.

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“Elegies for the Night” first appeared in Boston Poetry Magazine in April 2014.

 

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Kites

string

Kites

Will viewpoint shift with my spine’s slow
compression, or will this

window admit only true images
in the shortened days to come?

I pencil phrases on bone-shaped kites
and release them to the afternoon.

Call them prayers, name them moans.
Each string is a regret freed, a separate

skeleton, let go. My two selves shudder
in the attempt. I await the perfect breeze.

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