Well, well, well.

I found out today that Cherry Tree has nominated my poem “The Exotics” for a Pushcart Prize. This is very exciting. Very.

So many cool things have happened because I submitted to Cherry Tree’s inaugural issue. I got to see my poems placed side-by-side with other truly excellent poems, short stories, and essays. Verse Daily featured “The Exotics” on its site in September. And now a PP nomination.

The lesson here is submit to Cherry Tree. They are committed advocates of the writers they publish.

(P.S. I keep returning to Cherry Tree’s website over and over to make sure I’m not hallucinating this news. That’s how unbelievable this nomination is to me.)

New Poem Out

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I recently got my copy of Bellevue Literary Review’s fall issue, and I’m just so smitten with it. I have been long interested in war literature, so to have one of my poems included in a collection of such accomplished authors all writing on the topic of the effects of war is, to put it mildly, mind-bendingly trippy. I’ve had a chance to read most of the poems, all wonderful, but I’m even more excited to begin reading the prose.

So far, my favorite poem from this issue is “Titus Andronicus Wakes Up in a Nursing Home” by Charlie Bondhus. Just a stellar, stellar poem. The kind that makes you wish you had written it yourself.

Summer Slugging

The good news is that we’ve had a wonderful summer so far full of travels and visitors. We also know this may be our last full summer in our beautiful house on this beautiful bay, so we’re trying to MAX IT OUT. Our swimsuits are always wet and pooling water in the bathroom.

The not as good news is that writing is coming sluggishly, if at all. A lesson I’m having to learn over and over (and over and over) and over and over again is that I have to put in just as much effort–even more, I guess–to write bad and average poems before I can write any good poems. And then if I’m lucky enough to write a good poem, it’s back to writing bad and average poems again. So when I’m on a streak, like I am now, of hating absolutely everything I write, it’s important to remember that the bad poems are important too, that I learn from them and build upon them in order to reach the better poems. I’ve also noticed that when I begin experimenting with style or content or line, my poems all suck for a while (of course they do) until I begin reaching the point where my experiments are less forced and more…well, they evolve into poems I could have never written before had I not forced myself to step outside my rhetorical box and try something new.

Every writer goes through something like this. The difference is in the past I would hit a phase where I felt congested and frustrated, and I would just assume that I’d reached the end of my well (bucket?) of talent. Might as well retire. I won’t ever write anything good again!

Now I realize that that’s histrionics and anxiety disguised as self-defeating fact, that the only fact is that as long as I keep writing, even through the really bad stuff, I will continue to grow and improve as a writer and poet. You can’t exhaust your bucket of talent.

Bad poems matter too!

On Recognition and Near Misses

“I was most impressed by the work of Matthew Lippman and Kate Gaskin. Their poems seem to contain an emotional charge drawn from their respective life experiences, rendered in explosive language that jumps off the page. It is not always a comfortable feeling, but it makes for very exciting reading.” –-the review review

A friend sent me a link to a review of the inaugural issue of Cherry Tree, in which my poetry specifically is mentioned. Super surreal to see my name. I had the greatest experience working with Cherry Tree’s editors, and when I got my copy of the journal, I was delighted by how strong all the work is! It’s pretty unbelievable that my poems have been singled out. Up until this moment, I knew rationally–but not really emotionally–that someone other than myself is finally reading my poems.

In other (non)news, I got word that while my application for a work-study scholarship to Bread Loaf was rejected, it made it to the final round of discussions. I’ve had a lot of similar near-misses lately. They’re always so bittersweet. On the one hand, I know I’m growing stronger and more competitive as a writer. On the other, I still lost. Oh well, ever onward, right?

New Poems!

While Dominic and I were away on a week-long Caribbean vacation (so hard!), The Southeast Review published my poem “First Wife” as part of their Writer’s Regimen AND my copy of Kindred (and in it, my poem “Comet”) came in the mail!

Kindred is an especially beautiful publication for such a small literary journal. You can buy a copy, and support small presses here!

A Literary Journal, a Surprise, (and my cat)

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A couple weeks ago, I was browsing the archives at Harpur Palate, when I stumbled upon an essay by my dear friend Mel Oliveira. Mel and I and another friend, Rachel (also an incredible writer), were in a writing group when I lived in Boulder a few years ago. After I left Boulder, I quickly got pregnant, Dominic deployed, and then we moved again to Florida. It was easy to lose touch, stop writing, and fade out of this writing group I loved so much. So it was a wonderful surprise to find this essay, almost serendipitously, and it lead to my being more in touch with Mel again.

Luckily, you don’t need to order the journal (though you could) to read Mel’s essay Crab Season because it can be found on Harpur Palate’s website. I wanted to have the physical copy on hand, though, because Mel’s essay is just so lovely, and I wanted to be able to keep it in only the way print copies let you keep a piece of writing. As a bonus, one of my very favorite poets, Brandon Courtney, has poems in this issue as well.

Writing life is lonely and alienating at times, so unexpected connections and discoveries feel all the more valuable when they occur.

Weekend Reading

My friend Elizabeth has a chapbook of micro essays out with Spooky Girlfriend Press, and I cannot wait for it to come in the mail. It’s gonna be so good.

stone boatsIn Stone Boats, Elizabeth Taddonio is “trying to counteract all [the] stupid bullshit” of life, or at least a large part of it. She forgoes run-of-the-mill essays in favor of writing about ghosts: the alternate universe where she does street performance art comedy, a gas station from childhood, sunburns, and Colorado, among other things. You don’t realize Taddonio has plucked your heartstrings until you are suddenly thinking about your own ghosts, also trying to counteract the stupid bullshit.

One of the most exciting things to witness as a writer is your other writer friends’ successes. It’s also fun to discover new independent presses. Go here to order a copy of Stone Boats.