If interested in having me for a reading, class visit, or conference/festival, please contact me at lorcaloca AT aol DOT com

Friday, October 30, 2009

good news: jericho brown

jericho brown won a whiting award! i'm so happy for him!

you should check out the boxcar conversation between him & james allen hall:

... Because I am a human, I have to speak: I only do that with any kind of success when I am writing poems.

beautiful cover (forthcoming 2010)

suzanne frischkorn

the day before (bits)

tomorrow is the first deadline for a contest that i want to enter. i think i'm going to make it. i think.
the starbucks' sound system is playing a jewel tune. yuck.
i'm really stessing about the third section of my ms. it's a nine-part code-switching sequence. it employs spanish/ spanglish/ english and it's full of references to mexican pop culture/ history. it borrows language from robert hayden and corridos. it's a poem i wrote for chicano/a ears. in fact, if the reader doesn't know spanish/ mexican history then i doubt the reader will "get" the poem. and i kinda like that. one goal of the poem is to induce a sense of linguistic loss/ confusion in monolingual readers.

i think some monolingual contest screeners/ judges might toss out my ms because they don't "get" the sequence. but then i remember there are books out there with code-switching poems: bird eating bird, matadora, some clarifications y otra poemas, poeta en san francisco. these collections give me hope.
jewel is singing that she has small hands. who gives a flying fuck, jewel.
why am i so full of self-doubt? i know all poets suffer self-doubt, but i think i would medal in the self-doubt olympics.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

open reading period: Tarpaulin Sky Press

One week remains for the Tarpaulin Sky Press open reading period. During the month of October, Tarpaulin Sky Press is reading manuscripts of poetry, fiction, and cross-genre work. Manuscripts should be postmarked between October 1 and October 31, 2009.

click here for full guidelines


So in total, 76 presses had the opportunity to consider it over 5 years...
wow. you have to admire kelli's tenacity.
i hope i have her drive.
today i really hate my ms. i know some of my buddies are going to tisk tisk me writing this on my blog. but that's how i feel today. a few days ago, i was in love with it. the poems, the order, the title, all of it. but today, as i flipped through it, the poems called out for revision, the order called out for a new order, the title called out a new title.
i know this will pass.
some people have asked: do you have to be so public about your contest anxieties?
i love this poem by katy lederer.
wow. did i just write another woe-is-me post?
a few editors have asked for work in the past few months; i said no because the poems weren't ready. but i have four poems ready to go now. is it okay to send to those editors after you declined their initial offer?

Monday, October 26, 2009

caption contest round one

UPDATE: I won this round. Thanks for the votes. And congrats to everyone else who made it to the next round.

the caption contest is now live! i'm a participant this year!! click here to read the captions!


please note how i graciously refrained from asking you to vote for me. that deserves a vote or two!


you have until 6pm pacific time to vote.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The First Family

photo by Annie Leibovitz

Call for Submissions (CRAB ORCHARD REVIEW)

CRAB ORCHARD REVIEW: Special Issue: Land of Lincoln, Writing from and about Illinois

CRAB ORCHARD REVIEW is seeking work for our Summer/Fall 2010 issue focusing on writing by Illinois writers and writing from writers outside Illinois about the people, places, past and present of Illinois.

All submissions should be original, unpublished poetry, fiction, or literary nonfiction in English or unpublished translations in English (we do run bilingual, facing-page translations whenever possible). Please query before submitting any interview.

For our general submission guidelines, click on the link above or below.
Mail submissions to:

Land of Lincoln issue
Faner 2380, Mail Code 4503
Southern Illinois University Carbondale
1000 Faner Drive
Carbondale, IL 62901
United States of America

The submission period for this issue is August 1, 2009 through October 31, 2009. We will be reading submissions throughout this period and hope to complete the editorial work on the issue by the end of February 2010. Writers whose work is selected will receive $25 (US) per magazine page ($50 minimum for poetry; $100 minimum for prose) and two copies of the issue.

Address correspondence to:

Allison Joseph, Editor & Poetry Editor
Carolyn Alessio, Prose Editor
Jon Tribble, Managing Editor

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Hottie of the week: Bernard Malamud

bits (for naren)

i'm drinking a tall cup of ameicano coffee. did i mention that it's 5:20PM?
enter the dragon: c. dale young.
i'm working on a new poem. finally! i've spent these past two months revising and revising. i'm looking forward to winter; i tend to write the bulk of my new material during january, february and march. strange, no?
Review: 'The House on Mango Street' at Steppenwolf Theatre
i really dig this new pic, suzanne!
i've been dreaming about nyc these past few days. in my dreams i'm walking the streets, sitting in a cafe, going to musuems, browsing the shelves at st. mark's bookstore, people-watching in central park.
cyndi lauper, my diva, is appearing in the next installment of celebrity apprentice. she looks so cute in these pics!
my mind is buzzing. must be the coffee.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Kara Candito reviews Anna Journey

Journey’s incantatory language, coupled with reoccurring tropes of flowers, foxes, mirrors and mythical creatures give me the sense that I’m stumbling through a fairy tale funhouse, where flowers have names like “Lucifer’s Panties” and grackles collide with the ghosts of dead grandparents. These fantastical images are tempered by witty takes on the contemporary clichés of childhood danger—from smashed windows to menacing white vans to a wasp hovering “near a bulge in the picket fence”—Journey juggles the mythical past with the mundane and material present with an authority all too rare in emerging poets.

Call for Submissionsm (from Steve Fellner)


Phil Young and I have been asked to co-edit an anthology for Benu Press; its working title is Love Rise Up.

We both have been invested in the literary world for some time. I wrote and published a book of poems entitled Blind Date with Cavafy (Marsh Hawk Press, 2007) and a memoir entitled All Screwed Up (Benu Press, 2009); Phil has published in literary magazines such as Antioch Review.

The editor who commissioned this project asked that we focus on contemporary poets and poems that succeed on the following levels:

1.) The poem deals with social justice, not simply a social issue. In other words there has to be some action or suggestion of resistance or dealing with a social issue, not just having a social issue somewhere in the background.

2.) The poem offers an element of hope. This hope can be somewhat ambiguous, but at least some level of hope has to be detectable to the average reader. Think “Daybreak in Alabama” by Langston Hughes.

3.) The poem is an “accessible narrative or lyric that contains elements of genuine drama or comedy.”

4.) If the poem were a movie, it would have to receive somewhere between a G and PG-13 rating.

We would really like to include a poem of yours in Love Rise Up. If interested, please send us a poem(s) for us to look at as a Word document.

We’d happily look at new work or previously published. My co-editor and I are responsible for paying all fees, so I would appreciate a waiver, if at all possible.

Contributors will include Martin Espada, Denise Duhamel, Rigoberto Gonzalez, David Kirby, Sean Thomas Dougherty, Barbara Hamby, Cheryl Dumesnil, Fady Joudah, Rebecca Livingston, Alison Joseph, Laura Kasischke, among others.

When the anthology appears (in Fall 2010, tentatively), all contributors will receive one copy. Please call 585-395-5040 or e-mail sfellner@brockport.edu and pyoung@brockport.edu if you have any questions.

If you know that you will be offering us something, we’d be indebted if you let us know by the middle of November.

Feel free to send this to anyone who you think may be interested. In fact, we’d be, once again, indebted if you did.


Steve and Phil

Steve Fellner and Phil Young
26 Winston Woods
Brockport, NY 14420

boxcar poetry review

the latest installment of boxcar poetry review is up.

please check out the great conversation between james allen hall & jericho brown.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

sunday bits

i can't stop watching criminal minds reruns on a&e. i have a crush on all the male actors on the show. all of them!
kelli needs help picking an author photo. i voted for photo #2
shara lessley writes:
Mentors and well-intentioned folks have advised me time and again to only submit to prizes 1, 2, 3, 4, and (maybe) 5. And for two years now, I've done this with mixed results -- finalist, runner-up, semi-finalist, generic rejection. While I'm grateful for coming close, I'm reminded that some of the most interesting and engaging manuscripts I've read floated in la-la land for an average of 7 or so years before getting picked up for publication by both high profile ("big") prizes, as well as smaller presses. Does this change the poems' or poet's value? Absolutely not...

my silly and unrealistic fixation on big prizes has also been stoked by the advice given by mentors/ teachers. most of them have advised me to aim for the big contests. i'm rethinking that advice. reactions to my post, stern emails from poetry buddies, and a jolt of common sense have all contributed to this shift in my thinking. i'm still going to aim for the big contests, but i'm also going to look into non-contest options for my collection.
coming soon to this blog: a mini-interview with john olivares espinoza
Rejected, rejected, rejected. And thank goodness.
thank you, shara.

Friday, October 16, 2009

book contests: the remix

deborah ager posts some questions to consider as you get ready to submit (submit, i tell you!) to contests.

Do I want the press to do most of the promotion for me? Am I comfortable seeking out readings and engaging in promotional activities, or do I view promo work as “bad”?

i do not expect the press to do much publicity-wise. most presses don't have the staff or the resources to aggressively push their authors. i know i will have to work hard to push my first book. and i'm fine with that. in fact, i'm looking forward to it. i've been observing how other writers promote their books, and i've learned a lot. when my first book comes out, i'm going to knock on a lot of doors.

How important is a big-name press to me? Do I need the name of a big press to get a teaching job?

big-name presses are important to me. see my previous post. sigh.

must we talk about teaching gigs? i'm not on the market right now, but i will be the moment my ms gets picked up. i'm a curriculum vitae, hear me roar!

i know many writers who've been published by "small" presses who've landed tenure-track positions, so i know a big-name press is not a requirement for employment.

so no: i don't need a big-name press to get a teaching job.

Will the press send my book out to contests, which would help increase readership and notice? If yes, which ones?

i know some presses actively send out their books to post-publication contests; some presses have to be poked and prodded to lift a finger. i will make sure my press knows which contests i want my book sent to, and if they don't have the time/ staff to send it out, then i will send it out myself.

which ones? the good ones! ha.

If entering a contest, is the judge known to be fair or to pick his/her students?

i believe that a judge should never pick a former student. never! marvin bell is judging the whitman this year, so i'm not sending. and someone just told me that alberto rios is judging the donald hall prize next year, so there's another contest i can't enter. aren't you sick of my holier-than-thou attitude?

Would I buy and enjoy books from the press offering the contest?

yes. i'm sending to five contests this fall. i buy and enjoy the books put out by these five presses.

Do I like the book design of the press in question? What role do I want to play in cover selection?

yep. i do like the book designs of the presses i'm sending to. that's one of the big reasons i'm sending to them.

i would like to have a vote when it comes to cover selection. some presses want imput; others don't. i've heard that the presses i'm sending to do give their authors a voice when it comes to cover selection.

Are the books from the press bought by libraries? You may want these additional sales or to have a more permanent “home” for your poetry book in an academic or public library.

i would like for my book to find a home in libraries. who wouldn't? but i really don't know what criteria libraries use to purchase poetry books. i've seen titles from well-known presses and smaller presses on the shelves of my local library. i'm guessing reviews in library journal, publisher's weekly, and kirkus reviews play a big part in getting the attention of library book buyers.

And the Winner is...

David Parnelio
Email me and i'll mail you the anthology, David.


a thousand congrats to Kelli Russell Agodon for winning the White Pine Poetry Prize.

i dig the title of her book: LETTERS FROM THE EMILY DICKINSON ROOM.

it comes out next fall.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Beloved on the Earth: 150 Poems of Grief and Gratitude

This engaging anthology of 150 poems brings together a range of responses to the experiences of death, mourning, and gratitude for lost loved ones, composed by a variety of poets, both emerging and well-known. These poems can provide insight, solace, and understanding.

I have a poem in this anthology, which is published by Holy Cow Press.

I have an extra copy of the anthology. Do you want it? It's a fine read.

Leave your name in the comment box and I will randomly pick a winner.

3 bits

imported more cds to my itunes library last night. it was a night of lady voices: kylie, whitney, rocio durcal, fiona apple.
we need more snowe.

Friday, October 09, 2009

love this poem

Dead Wren

Opening your little gothic wings

on my whitewashed chest of drawers,

I almost fear you, as if today were my funeral.

Moment by moment, enzymes digest

your life into a kind of coffin liqueur.

Two flies, like coroners, investigate your feathers.

My clock is your obelisk, though only this morning

you lunged into my room, extravagant as Nero,

then, not seeing yourself in the sunlit glass,

struck it. Night—what beams does it clear away?

The rain falls. The sky is pained. All that breathes suffers.

Yet the waters of affliction are purifying.

The wounded soldier heals. There is new wine and oil.

Here, take my handkerchief as your hearse.

Henri Cole

Click here to hear Mr. Cole read some of his poems.

2 reviews

Craig Santos Perez on Tara Betts:
Another element that shades Arc & Hue is the poet’s humor. Imagine a poem in the voice of a “crazy aunt” who dreams of giving her nieces vibrators. Imagine a poem in which Pablo Neruda writes an email to Slam Poets. Can you guess Neruda’s email address?

Ron Slate on Kara Candito:
Candito’s attitude toward power is ambiguous, but not her display of it. Hers is a baroque indifference. Are her speakers femme fatales or nubile victims?

Thursday, October 08, 2009


i'm really tired of being nice to every blogger. aren't you?
i told a fib. i'm not only entering 4 contests this fall. i'm entering 5.
of course, i plan to send to open reading periods.
i love small presses. i support small presses by buying their books.
i laugh when bloggers post about their upcoming "important and huge" readings in nyc. talk about delusional.
i will send my ms to some smaller presses. but only presses that produce lovely books.
new pet peeve: bloggers who post about each and every freaking acceptance. especially acceptances to piss-small journals that nobody reads. believe me: no one is seeking out your work.
man, i'm in a bad mood.
these past few years i've sent out packets twice a year. i'm a slow writer so i usually don't have much product to move. but i also don't really care about journal publications these days. oh, don't get me wrong. i love reading my work in good journals. but all of my attention these days is focused on my collection, not on finding homes for individual poems.
here's a small list of journals i would love to crack in the future:
virginia quarterly review
kenyon review
american poetry review

some people might accuse me of being delusional.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Hottie of the week: Ezra Klein

i want his up-to-the-minute take


Cynthia Cruz's second collection has just been picked up by Four Way Books. It will be published in 2012.

I'm so happy for Cynthia!

I'm so happy for myself! I can't wait to read it. Ruin is one of my favorite books in recent years.

I taught it at Colgate.
I go back to it again and again.
I wish I had her eye.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

and then there were four


i've narrowed down the contests i'm entering this fall to four. count them: one, two, three, four.

i know i should be entering more. i was going to enter the whitman, but one of my ex-teachers is judging. damn you, marvin bell!

four! i'm not naming the contests, but i'm sure you can guess which ones they are.

i'm a bit ashamed of my reluctance to enter more contests. it's not a question of money. even though i'm broke, i would find a way to pay for the contest fees. i hate to say this: but i want to win one of the "big" contests. i know this is silly and dumb and unrealistic. i should know better. correction: i do know better. i have friends languishing in contest purgatory. friends with good/ great collections that never get picked for the big prize. and these friends aren't limiting themselves to a few contests. no, they're entering a lot of them. and yet, they're still struggling to find homes for their collections.

and here i am only entering four contests. i'm a special kind of fool.

why i'm so freaking hung up on winning one of the big book awards? well, i can think of two reasons.

1. i want a pretty book! all the big contests are attached to presses that produce beautiful books. i'm not entering a couple of contests this fall because i don't like the look of the books those contests churn out. let me say it again: i want a pretty book. i want to open my first box of books and weep with joy.

2. prestige. gawd, i can't believe i just typed that word. i feel like a total tool for admitting this, but i want my first collection to win something big and prestigious. why? i want my first book to make a splash. silly, no? how many first books have come out to the sound of crickets? plenty! and how many of those books were big contest winners? plenty. so winning a big contest doesn't ensure a big splash.

and what the hell do i mean by "big splash?" no one notices first books. no one! only other poets. and who cares what we think? there's no demand for our books. the books that do get some buzz will probably be forgotten in the next 10 years. i know all this. and i still want to win one of the biggies.

i'm going to go cry now.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Call for Submissions (For Norman Dubie and Tomás Q. Morín)

The editors are pleased to announce a call for submissions for A Face to Meet the Faces: An Anthology of Contemporary Persona Poetry.

We are seeking poems that work within the literary tradition of persona poetry: poems written as dramatic monologues, whose speakers employ masks, or whose character and voice are different from the poet's own.

Please submit up to 5 unpublished poems. We will also consider poems whose rights have reverted back to the author.

All submissions will be accepted electronically. Please send an email to the editors at facesanthology@gmail.com with the poet's name and "Submission for Persona Anthology" as the subject line, with the poems as an attachment.

Submissions will be accepted October 1, 2009 through January 1, 2010.