SoCS: ring

I’ve been out all day at the bicentennial of my hometown so this will be a short SoCS post.

When I saw that Linda’s prompt was ring, what came to mind was the poem I wrote about taking off my father’s wedding ring after he died. The first anniversary of his death was Wednesday. The poem was published this spring by Wilderness House Literary Review here.
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Join us for Linda’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday! Find out more here: https://lindaghill.com/2022/09/16/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-sept-17-2022/

Women of Words

Last night, I was honored to take part in the Women of Words poetry reading, presented by the Broome County (NY) Arts Council. Many, many thanks to Connie Barnes, the BCAC gallery manager, for organizing and hosting the event, which was held at the Orazio Salati Gallery, currently housing the BCAC Artisan Gallery and its Spring Awakening Exhibition.

As part of the Exhibition, each of the five Women of Words poets contributed a spring poem, which was framed and displayed along with the visual artworks. It was an honor for our words to be included in the Exhibition and a joy to read in the midst of so many wonderful pieces by local artists.

For me, it was also a joy to be reading with poet-friends from the Grapevine Poets, Wendy Stewart, Jessica Dubey, Carol Mikoda, and Merrill Oliver Douglas. I almost forgot to be nervous! We had three other Grapevine Poets in attendance, buoying us, and Connie gave us each wonderful, warm introductions. I also had daughter T in the audience.

Due to the size of the gallery and pandemic protocols, we had to limit the number of attendees. Connie took reservations in advance and I’m pleased to say that we “sold out”, if I may use that term for a free event. I was humbled when, after the reading, an administrator-friend from back in my days volunteering with our school district a couple of decades ago told me that she had signed up to attend specifically because I was reading. It was great to reconnect with her. Back in the years when we saw each other frequently, I hadn’t yet entered my current writing practice with either poetry or blogging, both of which I hope are more compelling than the committee documents I was working on back then.

I haven’t done a huge number of in-person poetry readings and, with the pandemic, had gotten accustomed to poetry onscreen. I remain grateful for those remote opportunities, especially in getting to hear readings from far-flung locations, but I had forgotten the power of connecting with a flesh-and-blood audience right in front of me. Hearing the occasional chuckle, seeing heads nod or eyes close while listening intently, and receiving applause are affirming that your words have reached someone, right then and there, and forged a community in that space, however briefly, something that is difficult to replicate with each individual in a little Zoom box.

In my set, I read a mix of published and unpublished poems. I began with “Thanks to the Department of Public Art” which I had written for a BCAC event in 2016 at the request of the Binghamton Poetry Project and which appeared in their Fall 2016 anthology. I included “Sisters” which I published in a blog post and “Sprague Suite” and “Monroe Bridge Mail” which first appeared in Wilderness House Literary Review. There is a blog post with background on those poems here. I read “Lily of the Valley” which was the poem I had written for the Exhibition and “Object Lesson” which is also unpublished, so I won’t share here, hoping that they will eventually make their way into a journal.

So, Happy National Poetry Month for US folks, Happy Spring for Northern Hemisphere people, and Happy Fall for you all in the Southern! Stay tuned for more poetry as we continue through the month of April.

One-Liner Wednesday: new poems!

In an act of shameless self-promotion, I’m using One-Liner Wednesday to promote yesterday’s post about the five – count ’em five! – new poems of mine published by Wilderness House Literary Review this week!

Join us for Linda’s One-Liner Wednesdays! Find out more here: https://lindaghill.com/2022/04/06/one-liner-wednesday-not-to-make-light-of-a-serious-situation/

Five Poems in Wilderness House Literary Review!

I am pleased and excited to share the link to the latest quarterly issue of Wilderness House Literary Review, which features five of my poems. Many thanks to poetry editor Ravi Yelamanchili and the whole team at WHLR for including me in their spring issue. If you are reading this in Spring, 2022, you can access the current issue at the link above; scroll down to the Poetry section to find Joanne Corey in the list of poets and click, which will take you to my work. If it is beyond that, you can find the issue through the cumulative index as Volume 17.1 – Spring 2022. While you are there, browse the WHLR archive for poetry, essays, art, fiction, and book reviews going back to Spring 2006. You’re sure to find something that will fascinate and delight you!

I thought I’d use this post to give some background on the poems and submission process. As folks who have been following Top of JC’s Mind for a while know, the last few years have been challenging for me as my family navigated the difficult last years of B’s mom and my parents, as well as the joy of welcoming a new generation to our family coupled with the complications of having them live across an ocean from us with the pandemic adding another layer of stress.

Because of all that, I was sandwiching in writing in a rather haphazard way and not concentrating on submissions. When I did begin making myself do the fraught work of preparing submissions, I concentrated on sending out my chapbook and collection manuscripts rather than journal submissions. Usually, a goodly number of poems in a manuscript have already been published in journals and I knew that I needed to get individual poems published as journal publications are the backbone of sharing poetry. Knowing that I was struggling with doing journal submissions, my wise poet-friend Merrill Oliver Douglas counseled me to choose five poems that I liked and send them out to a bunch of journals without stressing over style or if the poems related to each other or any of the other things that were keeping me paralyzed. I did that in early February. I chose to submit to WHLR because they were one of the first journals to publish my work back in Fall, 2015, just as I was getting more deliberate about publishing my poetry and just before we entered into our intensive phase with elder care. I thought there might be one or two of the five that would interest them but I was shocked and amazed that they accepted all five. (Being a good poetry citizen, I immediately withdrew the poems from all other journals to which I had submitted them.)

The rest of this post will give some of the background to the poems. You can choose to read them first, using the links in the first paragraph, or read the rest of the post first and the poems afterwards. I’ll write about the poems in the order in which they appear.

Starting off with a trigger warning, especially for family and friends who may not be ready to read “We probably should have taken off”, which is about the death of my father, known here as Paco. I wrote the first draft in the middle of the night while I was at the Boiler House Poets Collective residency only a couple of weeks after Paco’s death and workshopped it there. I did revisions and workshopped it again with the Grapevine Poets in October – and then couldn’t bear to look at it again for several months. I did the final edits in order to send it out this winter because I knew from the reaction of the poets who had seen the drafts that it was a strong poem. It’s sometimes hard for me to tell objectively when something is strong if it is also close to me emotionally. I had originally written this poem by hand in a journal and tried to replicate the spacing I had used when I put it into the computer. The use of white space seemed to fit the mood of the poem and is a frequently employed device in contemporary poetry, although some online journals advise against it because it can be hard to replicate in their publishing software. My original rendition is probably even “spacier” than the published version due to being on a larger page.

“Sprague Suite” is an ekphrastic poem based on the exhibit Transition: Decade of Decision, Sprague Electric>>MASS MoCA, 1989-1999 by Christopher Gillooly, which was on display there in 2018. When I was at our Boiler House residency that year, I felt as if it was my second home. I was drawn to it because it told the history of the former industrial site which is now home to the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. I am from the North Adams area, so I also have a personal perspective on that history. The six sections of “Sprague Suite” relate to Sprague Electric, which occupied the site for several decades until 1986, manufacturing capacitors. For fun, I also played a bit with form in this poem. Sections I and VI are haiku and II and V are tanka. III and IV are my go-to, free verse. “Industrial Buddha”, the title of section V, is the name of a collage sculpture of found objects that was part of the exhibit. This poem is part of my full-length poetry collection which is currently submitted to several contests and publishers.

“In my purse” began as a Binghamton Poetry Project prompt in fall of 2020. We were studying list poems and the power of juxtaposition. I’m a fan of list poems and had written several previously. When we write from prompts, we only have about ten minutes to draft, so the poems tend to be relatively short. There is also so little time to plan or ponder that words often fall onto the page in unexpected ways, which is perfect for a list poem where juxtaposition is everything. Thinking this quickly-generated draft had potential, I decided to workshop it with Grapevine and revise it to send out to journals. I’m so happy it has found a home at Wilderness House Literary Review!

“Zoom Wedding – October 4, 2020” also began as a Binghamton Poetry Project prompt in summer 2020. We were to begin a poem with a line from Ocean Vuong’s searing “Aubade with Burning City” about the final evacuation from Saigon in 1975. We were, however, to take our poem in a different direction. I chose the line, “He fills a teacup with champagne, brings it to her lips.” Given that we were then in the early months of the pandemic with public health rules making large gatherings impossible, I recast the line to open the story of a couple forced to cancel a long-planned June wedding and instead hold it in October via Zoom, which, for future readers who might see this after Zoom has been merged, renamed, or supplanted by newer technologies, is a video conferencing platform that gained ascendency when everything from business meetings to church services to family gatherings had to be cancelled or held virtually instead of in person. I began the draft during our BPP session and finished it the next day. I workshopped it with the Grapevine Poets, but then set it aside. I made some revisions in order to send it out this winter. I wasn’t sure if it would appeal to anyone as most people are trying to move beyond the pandemic, even though it hasn’t ended. Thankfully, with vaccines and treatments available, in-person gatherings are much safer in 2022 than they were in 2020.

“Monroe Bridge Mail” was drafted in May 2021 as I prepared to go on a private writing retreat back to North Adams to finish the manuscript which I referenced in the “Sprague Suite” section above. While I went to high school in North Adams, my actual hometown is Monroe Bridge, then home to about two hundred people, about twenty miles distant. I wanted to have some more Monroe Bridge poems in the collection, so I wrote this about our post office. I chose to employ a more conversational, storyteller mode, with long sentences and asides. It is a lot of fun to read aloud, which I had the opportunity to do at the Vestal Museum last summer.

Whew! Long post. If you have made it this far, thank you and congratulations! Please feel free to comment below. I love to know what people are thinking about my poems and/or posts.

“Fifty-four” in Eunoia Review

I am pleased to share the this link:  https://eunoiareview.wordpress.com/2016/06/06/fifty-four/ to my poem “Fifty-four” in Eunoia Review. It is a reprint of the poem which first appeared in Wilderness House Literary Review. Before that, it was a finalist in a Binghamton Poetry Project contest. It was written about me and my friend Angie.

I usually write squealing posts when a poem is accepted, but this was different. It was a very sober time in our lives, as we were dealing with the continuing process of grieving Grandma’s death. By sad coincidence, in January, Eunoia had published “The Last Night“, a poem I wrote about the death of my father-in-law. It felt surreal that they accepted another poem of mine that involves a death at a time when we were again mourning. This feeling has only multiplied as the losses have continued to mount this spring.

I do hope that you will take a moment to visit Eunoia Review and read my work. I would love to hear from you, either through comments here or at Eunoia.

Peace,
Joanne

2015 poems

Along with reading lots of 2016 resolutions, goals, and plans, I’ve read a lot of 2015 summary posts. I even contributed my WordPress summary post.

One of my poet-blogger-friends posted about her poem publications of 2015, which led me to the realization that 2015 is the year that I began to have poems published in competitive venues.

The one poem that I had had accepted in 2014 before joining the Bunn Hill Poets, my primary workshopping group, became available in the spring.  The anthology, Candles of Hope, is a fundraiser for the UK charity Topic of Cancer.  My contribution had been previously published on my blog. Generally, I don’t put poetry on my blog that I hope to submit as most editors won’t accept previously published poems, but this poem had been one I had written in the middle of the night as a personal cry and had never thought there would be an appropriate place for further publication.

With the help of the Bunn Hill Poets, further sessions of the Binghamton Poetry Project, and the new women’s writing workshop Sappho’s Circle, I was able to refine my poems and match them to publications well enough that I got a number of acceptances in 2015, which was very exciting after meeting with a number of rejection notices previously. Well, truth to tell, currently, too. While I do sometimes write about rejection notices, especially if they come with a compliment or encouragement to submit again, there are definitely lots of rejections when submitting for publication. One of the things I love about the stage of life I am in is that I know I can withstand the rejections and keep on trying. I would not have been so resilient in my younger days.

2015 saw my first appearance in a literary journal, Wilderness House Literary Review. My three poems in the fall quarterly are here.

I am pleased to have developed a relationship with Silver Birch Press. Besides their print anthologies and books, they publish series of poems on their blog, submitted to match their given prompts. I had a poem accepted in five series this year:
All About My Name
My Perfect Vacation
My Sweet Word
When I Hear That Song
Me, During the Holidays
All but one of these were written for SBP. You can hear a recording of my favorite of them “Lessons from Mahler” near the end of this video.

Which bring me to another point in my 2015 poetry story, the Mass MocA/Tupelo Press residency/workshop that I attended in November. It was my first ever experience with a poetry conference of any sort and an amazing, exhausting, overwhelming week. I’m going to be learning from and processing it for a long time. As the inaugural group in the partnership between the museum and Tupelo, we bonded with each other, named ourselves the Boiler House Poets after the setting of the video above, and vowed to have a reunion, which I’m pleased to say has been scheduled for fall 2016.  I’m hoping to have the bulk of the poetry collection that is flowing from that experience and my life-long relationship with the North Adams, Massachusetts area finished by then so that the Boiler House Poets can help me refine and strengthen it.

There is one poem that was accepted in 2015 but will be published this year by Eunioa Review. Yes, there will be the usual happy squealing and posting of the link when it becomes available, although it is not a happy poem.

My last sets of poems published last year came through the anthologies of the Binghamton Poetry Project, to which I will be forever grateful for setting me on the path to publication. Our anthologies are not available online, but you can find my contributions here at Top of JC’s Mind, for Spring 2015 and Fall 2015.

Thank you to all my readers who have been encouraging me on the poetry front. 2015 was a breakthrough year for me and I’m excited to see what 2016 will bring.
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This (perhaps way too long to be considered jotting) post is part of Linda’s Just Jot It January. Join the fun! Find out how here:  http://lindaghill.com/2016/01/07/just-jot-it-january-7th-robust/

JJJ 2016

 

Mass MoCa Poetry Residency: Thursday

Today is our last full day here, which is too bad as I’m finally feeling as though I am getting the hang of this.

I wrote a lot of new work today in the museum. I was a bit frantic about it, as I knew the residency will end before the museum opens tomorrow.

I wrote in the Liz Deschenes, Clifford Ross, Jim Shaw, Boiler House, Harmonic Bridge, Francesco Clemente, and Octagon Room exhibits. The Clemente Encampment was one of the more extensive drafts, as there were six tents to write about. I also wrote a 19 line draft about the “No Mud, No Lotus” series, with just a few words for each of the nineteen works in the series. I wrote page after page in my journal for a list poem based on Mark Dion’s The Octagon Room. I had seen it on a prior trip to Mass MoCA and was surprised to still see it there, as most of their collection is not permanent. Editing will be required or the poem will take up an entire chapbook on its own. Carol Ann would be proud of me, though, as she was urging me to write without mulling. There was definitely no time to mull today!

I was at the museum most of the time from 11-5, although I did take a break for a bit of lunch and for our final gathering with Jeffrey at the studio. As we are the inaugural group of poets for this program, we batted about ideas for future iterations of this residency/workshop, based on our experiences this time. The plan is to offer it four times a year, so stay tuned.

After the museum closed, I went back to the studio to re-organize and work on some logistics. We were gathering at the Tupelo loft for a closing dinner, which was pushed back until 8:00 so that people could attend a 7:00 reading at Gallery 51 on Main Street. A few of us, including me, felt too tired to concentrate on the reading, so we went to the loft early. I picked out some more books, which other people can give me for Christmas presents!

The dinner was fantastic! (I won’t go through the menu because it might make you hungry.) After dinner, we did a final reading for each other in a round robin, which included our hosts, Jeffrey and Cassandra. I read “Lessons from Mahler” and “(Not) the aunt I remember” . I was happy that they were well-received. Even though I am not as intimidated as I was at first, I am no less aware that I am just starting out in this endeavor, while I was sitting in a circle with poets with many journal publications, chapbooks, and collections, as well as a goodly number of prizes/nominations. Maybe someday…

We avoided saying good-bye tonight, assuming we are all going to see each other in the morning. It won’t be easy.

New poems published!

The fall quarterly of Wilderness House Literary Review (Volume 10 #3) is now available for free online. I have three poems in this edition and this marks my first publication in a literary journal. So exciting!

WHLR includes art, essays, fiction, poetry, and reviews. My poems are accessed through the link for my name, Joanne Corey, in the poetry section, which is charmingly arranged alphabetically by first name instead of last. I hope that people will peruse the issue, but the link here for my name will open the pdf of my poems. The link that begins this post will go to the most current issue of WHLR, but the link to my poems should be permanent.

The three poems are:
“(Not) the aunt I remember” which is based on my aunt who passed away earlier this year
“Fifty-four” which is in commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the death of my friend Angie 
“Downy” which is about a woodpecker in our backyard.

I’d love to hear any feedback you have on these poems. Please feel free to comment here, on Facebook, or by email for those who know my address. (Sorry but I don’t want to make my personal email public.)

– JC

Acceptance drama!

Alternate title: What happens when you check Submittable late at night when you can’t sleep.

Since coming back from Hawai’i, I’ve been having lots of trouble with sleep, so I got up and decided to check Submittable, which is a tool that many literary journals use to host submissions. I wasn’t expecting much news, because journals also send emails, so I was shocked to see an acceptance! I was excited! Also, slightly terrified, because it seemed that I had inadvertently broken a cardinal rule of simultaneous submissions, which is to immediately withdraw an accepted poem from any other journal which has it under consideration. Most journals only accept previously unpublished work, so it is important that you notify them promptly so that they aren’t spending time reviewing a poem that they can’t include in their publication.

I powered up my desktop, which has my main inbox – which, granted, is overflowing with the mail backlog from traveling. I thought that I had reviewed everything I received in Hawai’i, but, somehow I missed the acceptance email from Wilderness House Literary Review  – which they had sent on July 3rd. I was shocked to read that they accepted all three of the poems I submitted for their next issue!

I quickly wrote a reply, about how excited I was to appear in their journal and apologized for the delay in replying. Then, I brought up my personal submissions database and found that I needed to send notices to only two other journals, because a couple of others had already rejected these poems. Fortunately, each of these journals still has one or two of my poems to consider.

By this point, my pulse had been racing for a while, and going back to bed was out of the question, so I took advantage of the six hour time difference to message E in Hawai’i. I rattled on about this whole wonderful-but-slightly-nerve-wracking drama until I calmed down a bit.

But I knew I still wouldn’t sleep so I wrote this post, scheduling it to come out at a more reasonable hour for most of my readers who share my time zone.

At whatever time anyone does happen to read this though, I am pleased to announce that my poems “(Not) the aunt I remember”, “Fifty-four” and “Downy” will be published in the fall online edition of Wilderness House Literary Review in early October.

You can be sure I will publish the link here at Top of JC’s Mind when it becomes available.

And maybe, in an hour or so, I’ll be able to fall asleep…

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