Thursday, January 15, 2015

Ks. Humanities Council Announces 2015-2017 Poet Laureate Applications--Deadline Feb. 20

Here is the Jan. 15, 2015, press release: "The Kansas Humanities Council is pleased to announce a Call for Applications for the 2015-2017 Poet Laureate of Kansas. The Poet Laureate serves as a leader in strengthening citizen engagement with the humanities through poetry. The Poet Laureate will serve a two-year term beginning in May 2015. Activities will include audience discussions and social media engagement that celebrate poetry as a public good, one that reveals our connected experience, past and present. Presentations will explore the laureate’s own work and the poetry of others. 
 Completed applications are due via email by 5:00 PM Friday, February 20.
Applicants must meet the following eligibility requirements:
·                     At least 18 years of age and a non-student
·                     A Kansas resident for the previous 3 years and remain a resident throughout the Poet Laureate term (through April 2017)
·                     Available to travel statewide to 12 events per year at Kansas nonprofit organizations such as libraries, art or community centers, and museums. Statewide reach is of utmost importance to the mission of KHC and the Poet Laureate program.
·                     Have at least one book of original poetry published by a commercial or small press (not vanity press or self-publication)
·                     Willing to meet with KHC donors and speak at KHC fundraising events

Current KHC board members or staff, past Poets Laureate, and undergraduate and graduate degree-seeking students are not eligible.

Responsibilities of the Poet Laureate of Kansas The Poet Laureate will further Kansans’ engagement with poetry through the following duties:
·                     Public Events. The Poet Laureate will participate in 12 poetry events per year at Kansas nonprofit organizations such as libraries, art and community centers, historical museums, and civic groups. Attending KHC donor and fundraising events will also be required.
·                     Social Media. The Poet Laureate will engage with the public through one or more popular social media platforms.

Compensation The Poet Laureate will receive $5000 per year for fulfilling the responsibilities outlined above. The stipend covers all honoraria and travel expenses.

 Criteria Poet Laureate applicants will be ranked according the following measures:
·                     Excellence determined by poetry samples.
·                     Professionalism determined by (1) publication of at least one book by a commercial or small press (not vanity presses or self-publication) and (2) involvement in the larger poetry community as evidenced by participation in editorial boards, organization of poetry reading series, and/or teaching poetry courses or workshops.
·                     Commitment to the public advancement of poetry in Kansas as evidenced by a history of activity through readings, presentations, blogs, poetry-centered social media, and/or teaching in a public space not normally considered a classroom. An ability to reach diverse Kansas audiences is strongly encouraged.

Genre and/or speculative poetry (poetry distinguished from other poetic genres by being categorized by its subject matter rather than the poetry’s form, such as cowboy, science fiction, or fantastic poetry) will not be competitive.
Selection Committee The 2015 Poet Laureate Selection Committee is a 7-member panel comprised of literature scholars, working poets, librarians, and members of the KHC Board of Directors. Two finalists will be invited to speak with members of the selection committee and Friends of the Humanities. The announcement of the new Poet Laureate will follow, most likely in April, National Poetry Month.

Application Materials Interested applicants must submit the following materials for consideration:
o        Application cover sheet (provided)
o        One-page letter of interest that demonstrates the applicant’s commitment to the humanities through poetry
o        Résumé or curriculum vitae with recent publication history (3 pages maximum)
o        10 pages of sample poetry
o        Up to 3 items of further support materials (DVD or YouTube link to a public reading, letters of reference, etc.)

Applicants may submit a draft application for KHC staff feedback prior to final submission. KHC understands that a draft is a work-in-progress. Drafts can be emailed as a PDF to Leslie Von Holten at Draft deadline: February 5, 2015. E-mail applications(form on KHC website) to Leslie Von Holten, KHC director of programs, at

Application packets must be received in the KHC offices by the deadline above. Receipt of all applications will be confirmed within 3 days. If you have not received a confirmation, please call the KHC office. Questions? Contact Leslie Von Holten, KHC director of programs, at or 785/357-0359."

Sunday, December 14, 2014


The Kansas City Star includes poetry among its priorities in reviewing, a rare opportunity, through the year, to learn of new works by contemporary versifiers. I feel lucky to be able to contribute as a regular reviewer and as a compiler of this list. Nine of the one-hundred 2014 Notable KC Star books are poetry:

Ask Me: 100 Essential Poems by William Stafford (Graywolf), Blood Lyric, by Katie Ford (Graywolf), Book of Hours by Kevin Young (Knopf).  Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine (Graywolf), Faithful and Virtuous Night by Louise Gluck (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), Put This on, Please by William Trowbridge (Red Hen), Wolf Centos by Simone Muench (Sarabande), Woman With a Gambling Mania by Catherine Anderson (Mayapple), Collected Haiku of Yosa Buson translated by W.S. Merwin and Takako Lento (Copper Canyon).

Compilers of this list are: Darryl Levings (KC Star books editor), Steve Paul (former KC Star books editor and editorial staff), Brian Burnes (KC Star columnist), Edward M. Eveld (KC Star); and regular KC Star reviewers: Kevin Canfield, Liz Cook, Jeffrey Ann Goudie, Anne Kniggendorf, Denise Low, Christine Pivovar, Sebastian Stockman and Steve Weinberg. University of Missouri-Kansas City English Department members consulted are: Hadara Bar-Nadav, Christie Hodgen and Whitney Terrell. The list includes fiction, nonfiction, and verse. See the entire listing of 100 Notable Books with commentary:

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Jackalope Flash Fiction by Denise Low


Jaq leans up against the “Ride a Jackalope to Trinidad” billboard and soaks in the warm sun. Wind whistles under the frame, but this is mostly a sheltered spot. She slides into the grass and dozes.

When she rouses, no telling how long she has slept. She looks across the scrubby junipers toward Raton Pass. This is the Santa Fe Trail, and before that it was a game trail, although history books will credit only human species, and then only Europeans.

What rough country. Old volcano cones dot across the horizon like chess pieces on a disorganized checkerboard. Other ridges flow rhythmically into tilted edges of mountains. A few stone wall ruins remain, perhaps Pueblo, and the arch of an abandoned Spanish church. Farther upstream, a Raven circles.

In the valley she notices movement, then sees smooth leaps of two antelopes, their ebony-black pronghorns well defined against pale grass. Good to know the ‘lopes still own part of the homeland.

Back by the highway, a white cross rises above an informal shrine of tinsel roses. Here someone died in a car accident, a reminder of time passing, as much as the extinct volcanoes. A fading photograph of a young man’s face, framed in white wood, stares West into eternity.

Jaq looks behind her at the garish billboard poster. “We Never Sleep!” says a grinning cartoon wolf. “Stay the Night.” The Jackalope next to the Wolf wears a saddle, and it walks down the highway, one foot raised.

Jaq looks back at the subdued greens of the winter foothills. The raven tilts and starts a new spiral against clouds. In a blink, it all could return to primal void. Or not.

Jaq smells the piny mountain scent one last time. She stands up against the saddled Jackalope image, and it is exactly her size. She stretches to fit the silhouette. She raises her foot to mirror the poster and tweaks her left ear to fit. It is when she matches the two-dimensional Jackalope’s grin that she suddenly loses consciousness.

© 2014 Denise Low. First published in Yellow Medicine Review. All rights reserved. Contact kansaspoetry [at] gmail for permissions and queries.
 Below is a link to "Jackalope Walks into an Indian Bar, first published in Cream City Review, nominated for a Pushcart Prize by CCR, 2014.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Louise Gluck Wins 2014 National Book Award

The National Book Award Foundation announces Louise Gluck as the winner of the 2014 prize for poetry, for the book Faithful and Virtuous Night (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). Gluck's lines have spare intensity, fused with narrative momentum. In her 2006 book Averno, she works with the Persephone myth to deconstruct patriarchal confinement in the poem “A Myth of Devotion,” which begins: 
When Hades decided he loved this girl
he built for her a duplicate of earth,
everything the same, down to the meadow,
but with a bed added. . . .        (See
Gluck weaves the story within her own meditations on the isolating process of a controlling lover. The connection to the mythic level adds power to her narrative, raising the individual complaint to larger questions of human isolation within an enigmatic cosmos. In an interview with Sandra Lin, Gluck says this about Faithful and Virtuous Night:
 “What distinguishes this book, to me, is the absence of struggle, which has been replaced not by resignation, but rather by a kind of strange ecstasy. It may be no other reader will feel this. Old age, particularly before it produces any spectacular deterioration, is very different from the fear of death, which has been my subject, and battleground, since I began writing in my early childhood.” Interview by Sandra Lim      
Louise Glück was born in New York City on April 22, 1943, and grew up on Long Island. She is a writer-in-residence at Yale University. She is the author of fifteen collections of poetry, over almost fifty years. Her book of essays about poetry writing, Proofs and Theories: Essays on Poetry (Ecco Press, 1994), which won the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for Nonfiction. Her many awards, besides the 2014 National Book Award for Poetry, include the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Bollingen Prize, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Selected Bibiography: Faithful and Virtuous Night (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014); Poems: 1962-2012 (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2013); A Village Life (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2009); Averno (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2006)
The Seven Ages (Ecco Press, 2001); Vita Nova (Ecco Press, 1999); Meadowlands (Ecco Press, 1996); The First Four Books of Poems (Ecco Press, 1995); The Wild Iris (Ecco Press, 1992); Ararat (Ecco Press, 1990); The Triumph of Achilles (Ecco Press, 1985); Descending Figure (Ecco Press, 1980); The Garden (Antaeus, 1976); The House on Marshland (Ecco Press, 1975); Firstborn (New American Library, 1968)


Tuesday, November 18, 2014


© 2014 Denise Low. Contact mammothpublications[at]gmail for reprint permission

Over 200,000 books are published each year, give or take a few, and the fine art of inscribing a book is important to more people than ever. E-Bay has raised awareness of collectible values of everything, including autographs. After an author publishes a chapbook (stapled-bound or stitched booklet of 24 or so pages); a literary flyer or “broadside”; or book, fans will want signatures. Here is a great chance to participate in direct interaction with readers. Two parts are: (1) what to say and (2) what to write.
The “Say” Part: Personal Connections
One of my favorite memories of Associated Writers and Writing Programs, which I served as board member and chair, was the annual conference reading by Terry Tempest Williams. Anyone who has read her work understands her family health difficulties—she lost both her mother and brother to cancer. She had bad news about her own health right before the conference. At her reading, she stunned the audience with her brilliance and sincerity, with never a hint of her condition. Afterwards at the book table, over a hundred people wanted inscriptions. She had a personal conversation with each. Many she knew beforehand; some were strangers. This took about two hours, and the room was free, so she had no time limit. People were willing to wait. In this type of interaction, you can build relationships with your readers. However, you may not have a hundred fans and a rent-free room with no deadline. Lots of practical considerations come into play.
Practical Considerations
When does the reading site need to be vacated? Most libraries and bookstores close by 9 p.m. Once I was at a store that closed at 8 p.m., and I missed the entire signing because of this misunderstanding.
Who else is signing books? How much room is there? You may be at a table alone or with a group of twenty. If it is a larger group, you want to be a good literary citizen and share space nicely. When others do not play by the rules, be courteously persistent.
Visual Aids. You may want to bring handouts, a bookstand for a display copy, and other aids, depending.
Sales Assistance. If possible, do not handle sales yourself. Digging around for change takes away from the author-reader moment. If you are in a bookstore, do expect to sign (not inscribe) unsold copies.
Personal Touches and Challenges
Courtesy. Of course a writer is pleased to have attention to the book. Most fans will politely mention their names, spell or write them out, and comment briefly. This is ideal, and courtesy comes easily. People will remember for decades the personal time with an author like Terry Tempest Williams. Or yourself.
Exchange contact information. You may find book fans that you want to visit with more, outside of this brief encounter. Bring copies of your business card. This is helpful for directing people to online personal and sales sites. The blank back is a quick notepad for further information.
Listen. This is a chance to get feedback about the reading, responses to books, new work reception, and other information, directly from readers. Priceless!
Keep the Line Flowing. Readers have obligations to all stakeholders to keep the book signing line flowing smoothly. Do not let one person monopolize your attention. One of my least favorite parts of helping to host AWP conference readings with hundreds in the audience was courteously shoving people out of the way of eminent authors. My duty was to get authors to the book table at the back of the room and make way for the next panel. Long lost relatives, social media acquaintances, former students, and past life soul mates did not want to let go. I borrowed a blocking technique from football.
Patience.  Some audience members pull out their own manuscripts and want critiques on the spot despite a line of fans. Some really have no sensitivity to social cues. Here is where you use your “difficult person” script—thank them, mention your responsibility to other readers, break eye contact, and look at the next person in line. If all else fails, stand up and find the reading host or take a break. Bookstores often have people to help.
The “What” Part: Personal Interaction
Equipment. Invest in a half dozen nice pens in archival, fast-drying black ink or a unique personal color. I have signed some books in blue to relate to the book’s theme (sky, water). Pencil may be a better choice, because lead does not fade nor deteriorate like some acid-based inks. Consider the type of paper to be signed, and if it is a slick finish, find a pen that does not smear. Fast drying ink is especially important on glossy-finish paper. Try out sample signings, including where to sign on the book’s page. Collect your armory of signing utensils and save them for signings only. If you are really famous, keep one on hand for any public excursion.
Calligraphy. Do your best. Practice. Be sober. Slow down when you get sloppy.
Where to sign. The title page is the most common signatory site, unless this is a rare or fine arts book. If the books is an anthology, you turn to your first page and sign. If there is a bookplate, the book owner might ask for a signature. Sometimes loose bookplates are substitutes when books are not available.
Sign or Inscribe? Ask book owners if they want a simple signature or specific dedications to him/her or someone else. Is it a gift that needs birthday or holiday wishes? Have a pad for spelling out unusual names or specific instructions. Sign or Inscribe Redux: Collectibles. Signed copies are easier to sell and have greater collectible value. Inscriptions have a shelf life and lower the value. People die, move, go to used bookstores. One of my worst days was in a local used book store, where I found my own books inscribed to someone who no longer had need of them. (What was worse was finding an early book of mine with corrective comments written in the margins!)
Cross out your name on the title page and replace with your signature, or do not. When we sign letters, the typeset version of a name must be validated with a handwritten signature. Author signatures follow the same custom. Some book collectors object to the crossing out of the printed signature, but it does show a personalization of this particular book. More recently, the custom is to autograph the name above or below the typeset name without crossing it out. Your choice.
So what does an author write? A signed book is when an author simply signs his or her name in a book and perhaps dates it as well. An inscribed book is when an author adds a personal note, usually with a dedication that includes the book buyer’s name (or his/her designee).
·         Sign your names, first and last, unless you are Madonna or Cher. You might want to use you’re a name or initial for signings. Do not use your official legal name if possible (identity theft is possible).
·         Date and place. This adds a nice emphasis to a meeting place. The title of the event is also appropriate.
·         A simple inscription like “Have fun reading,” “Best wishes,” “Nice to meet at __________,” “Your friend.” These are safe, but not special. In large groups, though, they keep the line flowing.
·         Refer to event incidents. This helps to further commemorate an evening, if perhaps the reading took place during an ice storm, honoring of a writer, or unexpected flower delivery.
·         A set individual phrase or notation. Your personal and universal message might be like Elmore Leonard’s “Take it easy,” for all his books. Or you might draw an individual hieroglyph like Kenneth Irby, a five-point star within a circle. David Sedaris personalizes each signature with a sticker.
·         A quotation or theme from the book, like “Best hopes for all your skies,” what I inscribed in the book Touching the Sky. Robert Hass often inscribed his book Human Wishes with “All the best human wishes.”
·         Something about the reader. The true art of inscription is personalizing the comment. Is this a family member, good friend, student, teacher, or other important relationship? Do you share cats, vacations, wine preferences, work? Converse with the book buyer a moment. The more you can quickly compose a reference to that relationship, the better. This reminds me of signing high school yearbooks.
E-Signatures: Authorgraph™ is software that allows authors to sign digitally. Here, according to the website, is how it works:  “(1) Search or browse for your favorite authors or books; Click ‘Request Authorgraph’ (you can include a short message to the author); Receive an email when the author has signed your Authorgraph; View your Authorgraph in your favorite reading apps and devices.”

And here is a final word from Richard Sassaman: “How you sign the book is really the least important part of the interaction; they’re more likely to remember how you dealt with them personally.”

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Lisa M. Hase-Jackson is Zangara Poet!

One of the most active poetry blogs right now is Lisa M. Hase-Jackson’s  Zingara Poet. Recent topics include: a review of Rick Mulkey’s new book; regular poetry picks (see her submission guidelines); interview with Santa Fe Poet Laureate Joan Logghe; lots of poems of merit from knowns and unknowns; and even an interview with moi ( ). Something new and unexpected appears regularly in my social media-feed, and I’m always glad to see it, at ZingaraPoet .
Hase-Jackson is herself a challenging, socially conscious commentator who chronicles histories wending through landscapes, as in this poem:
Lonely Is

Built low to the ground,
the bungalow’s curtained windows hid
the family’s exodus for years
until dry rot set in and neighbors
noticed what they hadn’t before.

      When ‘xactly was it
     Jake stopped comin’ ‘round?

Standing solid in the crab-grass covered
drive, its frozen engine home to pack-rats,
a ’72 Chevy truck, single key still hidden above
the sun visor, weathers patiently.

Inside   strewn   across   knotty pine   floors
             after   common   thieves  and   strangers
             have vandalized and sifted,
             a photo album lies open

             in its pages  sepia   photos   of fish
                   that      got   away,  
              evenings  at the 4-H fair
              ribbon-winning laying hens
              hen-pecked by  tussled-haired  children
nearby   baby clothes   crocheted blankets
              mildew scented bunnies   and bears
              standing   on their   ears

 decaying  volumes   of  Encyclopedia Britannica
                     a children’s bible

 eggshells   and   bird droppings
              beneath  rotting  holes  in the ceiling.

Lonely is the house
           at the end of the lane
overgrown with Hoary cress
and thistle leaning
          in the wind.   

                                (Pilgrimage, Volume 37, Issue 1, 2013)

Lisa Hase-Jackson holds a Master’s Degree in English from Kansas State University and is pursuing an MFA at Converse College in Spartanburg, S.C. She is a poet, teacher, freelance writer, writing coach, and editor of and 200 New Mexico Poems. Her poems appear or are forthcoming in such literary magazines as Sugar Mule, Kansas City Voices, Pilgrimage, and As/Us Journal. Editor, 200 New Mexico Poems  Twitter,  @ZingaraPoet

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

CARAZA, GLANCY, AND GOLDBERG featured at the Mammoth 2015 AWP Reading April 11, Book Fair Stage 1, 10:30 a.m.

Save the date! Thanks to Mammoth Publications authors XANATH CARAZA, DIANE GLANCY AND CARYN MIRRIAM-GOLDBERG. They will be featured at Mammoth’s AWP 2015 reading, Minneapolis Conference! April 11, Saturday, in Minneapolis, 10:30 a.m. We will have a great reading from Mammoth authors Xanath Caraza, Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, and Diane Glancy, including the new book Syllables of Wind / Silabas de viento by Xanath Caraza. This is the largest literary book fair in North America. A one-day pass for all Sat. programming is $40, a bargain. See AWP 2015 on FB for details