22 Things I Learned from Submitting Writing

Blake Butler

22 Things I Learned from Submitting Writing

Re this I thought about this:
1. Early on I sent out a lot of bullshit. I mean I would send out almost anything that seemed done, whether I loved it or not. Later on I began to realize that not only did I rarely receive acceptances for things that I hadn’t put the work on in, I also realized that boy does it suck when you accidentally get something published that you don’t even like.
2. There is a mental diminishing return to publishing. The more you do it the more the feeling is diluted. Thus, there is no rush. It seems really urgent and then it seems less urgent. Being diligent  to the point of nearly psycho produces results in that the practice of writing makes you get better and better, but you should never feel shitty for a rejection. It is just another chance to improve. Take that chance.

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Saving that One Starfish in the Sea


Poet of the Week: Jennifer H. Fortin

Poet of the Week: JENNIFER H. FORTIN
JENNIFER H. FORTIN's first book, Mined Muzzle Velocity, will be published by Lowbrow Press in late 2011.

Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Court Green, Copper Nickel, BlazeVOX, Zoland Poetry, H_NGM_NAction, Yes, LIT, GlitterPony, TYPO,Coldfront (a review), and elsewhere. Dancing Girl Press has recently published her chapbook, If Made Into a Law, another chapbook, Nicole C. (Apartment 4), was published as part of the Dusie Kollektiv in 2011; another is forthcoming from Poor Claudia. With three other poets, she founded and edits the online poetry journal LEVELER. She has been named a Finalist for the Poetry Foundation’s Ruth Lilly Fellowship.

Fortin lives in Syracuse, New York. She is happy to be able to say she is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (Bulgaria 2004-2006) with an M.F.A. in Poetry from The New School.

Poet on Poetry's Questions for Jennifer H. Fortin

1.            What inspires you as a poet?

Organization, implosion, derailment, sequence. Things that find themselves on the train tracks, there because they couldn’t resist pressing their ears to the beams. The everyday, every day. Headlights. What’s unfair.

& above all: detail, subtlety. The small things that imply hugeness.

2.            What advice do you have for other poets?

Read & write. It sounds obvious, but I think these activities get lost sometimes in the jungle of other aspects related to poetry: publishing, submitting work, attending & giving readings, networking at conferences. Take care to continue to read & write.

3.            What prompted you to start writing poetry?

A seized pressure prompted me to start writing poems. It soothed me to count syllables, to hoard language, using & misusing it as I pleased. It was like seeing each other’s faces, like everyone finally not doing anything without me.

4.            Where do you see yourself going in the future as a poet?

To Lake country! I need to take my own advice & return to diligent reading (especially older poems) & writing (also older poems?), processing & thinking, & doing it all again. As a recent transplant from Brooklyn to Syracuse, I’m ready to take advantage of my new proximity to these calming lakes, to be quieter, to spend more time with books & paper.

5.            What are your favorite poetry journals?

I read a wide variety of journals, both online & print. The idea of choosing favorites doesn’t appeal to me. There’s so much writing out there to read, & I tend to find more readily poems I admire rather than journals or even poets to call favorite.

6.            Can you tell us a little about the poems your chose to present today? What inspired them maybe, or anything else you’d like to say about them.

Here I’ve chosen a few poems from a new chapbook of mine, If Made Into a Law (Dancing Girl Press).

“Fault” is a kind of feeling around, a kind of being in a word. I sat with the word for a long time, made it an epicenter & worked outward. A lot of words have crazy, complicated origins & meanings (sometimes even contradictory ones—I love those!), & it’s good, thorough exercise to stretch with them.

“If Made Into a Law, the Bill Would Create Several Crimes” is the poem that spurred the organizing principle of the chapbook. This title is based on the textual form of a bill summary. Once I’d written the poem, I thought I’d put together a collection of poems based, however loosely or closely, on existing textual forms usually not associated with poetry (I have a mission statement poem, one based on meeting minutes, & so on). In the case of this piece, I also grabbed some language you might find in a bill summary.

The kernel of “Can You Walk Away Yet?” is also based on a textual form we all know, but in the process of writing the poem, the form has been pretty well buried, I think.

7.            How do you write? Time of day? By hand or computer? Where?

I go long stretches between bouts of writing. I wish I could write more, but maybe it’s that wish that sort of builds to a writing session. Mornings are always best for writing, I find, before I’m forced to engage in language with other people, with the computer screen, with signage, etc.

Jennnifer H.  Fortin's Poetry  


There’s loss of pride when imperfection is
esteemed; also, when perfection is. Indulgence
slickens either way, & so I take down capacities,
lengths, dimensions to reference at some later
erroneous point, to avoid confusion. I was never
talking lions with pride—failures, false
folds—shortcomings flipped appear
as eccentricities. Hysterical cities strain
for equilibrium, cancel forces with exertions
until everyone knows the slash of the beam’s
competitive streak & the scrapers, the steps
of stairways sensing faults below
in the rock, o embedded banana peel,
it is getting slippery in the invisible lowers,
& who will walk up to responsibility?
Panopticon windows grimy on every corner.
Who will walk up to me & say
something? Spoken too softly, fault

sounds like guilt: ensure no swallowed
vibration. Overworked geologists cannot break
this entire code. I took note where I could: faults
can be horizontal, vertical, or oblique. So can
misdeeds, at the bottom. Study what powers have
acted on the bedrock. If your circuitry
is flawed in connection, blame the poor
insulation, grounding, the tennis serves,
anything. Remember that at fault, find fault
& to a fault are kissing cousins with an added
copped feel & context had better not falter.
Dirty mouths simultaneously imperfect & perfect.
My comparatively minor offenses cracked lines.
When I intimated it may be yours, your fault,
you typically took me to want to say
the crevices, evidence of earth’s movement,
grandiose observer of mine who claims
the provocation behind any quake,
the shift in a continuity. My skin
is angry because it is an organ
trying to live on the outside.

If Made Into a Law, the Bill Would Create Several Crimes

Calling into question
the fake fireplace raging
under my dress;
a serial slant; an under-
duress, have-faith-in v;
a taut band
orchestrating the crisp;
a behavior problem or two,
as far as I can tell;
a constitutional friend taught
sloped approaches to amends;
a nacreous, deflected shame;
your toxic complexity
sabotaging the scales

Can You Walk Away Yet?

Edgy letter rising, somehow nestling; the haystack

begs for flames. Putting away from one’s self
the reasons. Matched together, they are the reason.

Incessantly-treaded sidewalk’s seven flattened
sparrows line.

A boot’s heel really digs the girth.

Firing squad’s target
circles. No one’s day is today.

O little one who is going that way.

Pressure on needle’s plunger. If looks could kill.

The brother on the kitchen floor consuming, having consumed.

Mirror’s wicked introduction to Really?

Most unspeakable thing: we deny
the narrows. Obvious joy, one another.

Someone else’s skin
under scooped fingernails.

Bowl of haired goat. Luxury served.

Blinds twisted upwards cannot afford total invisibility.

The walk around the car, around the car, around
the car, around the car, around the car.

The doors are definitely locked. Can you walk away yet?

For the storm warms up muscles, drilling for embrace.

Pie in my eyelashes. Its comedy crumbling.
Imprisoning square frame—the paint tallying days on a wall.

What the cells have
done to you on the outside.

Exposed wires exposing. Electronics
found at their ends.

If I drop an object, it is pulled
to the floor. We lie: falls.

A man’s any-mask makes me run.

Giving away possessions.
Listen to a last song carefully.

Anticipatory foundation,
making up.

Altering lens-shapes: see better, obliterate.

I need some warning other than too-bright/shield.

This morning I visited the driest June
hay, and I am some distance away.

You can find Jennifer H. Fortin at:
1) LEVELER (this is the online poetry journal I co-founded & co-edit)
2) My author page on the Lowbrow Press site

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Social Media Marketing for Poets and Writers

Social Media Marketing for Poets and Writers

So, you have a new book and you can’t wait to develop a throng of eager buyers on Twitter and Facebook. Those of us who are active on social media have seen the fly-by-night writer who jumps on Twitter and Facebook after the book is out and tries to get a buzz going only to crash and burn. They post a few tweets and Facebook posts hoping the book will take off and sell as if opening a store, flinging open the doors and saying, “I’m here!” expecting eager buyers of poetry books to rush to Paypal or Amazon.

Those of us who have spent some time around these parts realize people don’t flock to you because of one great Tweet, or even a great book alone.  Most of us have wonderful friends that we have met on Twitter and have developed relationships with over time. We’ve all made mistakes learning the ropes, but there some ways to get your poetry marketing on the right track.

Poet on Poetry’s blog was born on April 23, 2011.  We are not the Huffington Post yet, but we will top 20,000 views in the next couple of days.  How did that happen when so many poetry blogs hunger for 200 views per month? How do you drive traffic to your shop once you’ve flung open the doors and put out the Open sign?
Well, that is my secret and I am not going to tell you.  

Just kidding, I am considering writing an ebook that will give you step-by -step instructions and tips.  Marketing on social media is different than marketing anywhere else in that it is even more about relationships than other forms of marketing. The biggest tip I can give you is to promote others-Follow them, Like their Facebook page, Follow their blogs.  Engage those people who interest you by sending them feedback and making comments on their blogs. Retweet them to everyone every chance you get.  In short, show Twitter love.

Let everyone who sees your avatar think of you as the biggest cheerleader for poetry and poets on social media. Be selective about who you cheer for, since people will be deciding if your ideas are worth clicking on. You want people to think, “I’m going to check out this link because this person usually promotes good stuff and is never just self promoting.”  Promote what you like and you think others might like. Develop a reputation for finding good poets and poetry sites and tweeting about them to your Followers.

You can always start with me!  I almost always Follow people who are Retweeting me and I always follow back people who comment on my blog, post on my blog or Like me and the blog, if I can find them!  I suggest if you Follow the blog with Google Follow that you send a message to me and tell me that you are Following just to be sure I realize you are there.  The other ways to follow the blog let me know when you join, Google doesn’t.

Twitter’s law: Before you ask other writers to read and retweet your material, read and retweet other writers. You build your credibility by promoting others and that karma is returned to you and works much better than constantly posting links promoting yourself. It may seem counter intuitive, that to get others to look at your work, you need to send them somewhere else, but it works. An added bonus is you will find some delightful people, ideas, poems and material that will inspire your own writing.

I’d love to hear your ideas!  What do you think works for marketing on Twitter and Facebook?  What irritates you about writers who  market on social media? What suggestions do you have for lowly poets out there looking for ways to sell their work? Do you have an amazing success story?  Please share!

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