Poetry Business: Free Poetic Challenges & the Hidden Value of Comments

Autumn Landscape (Paysage d'automne)

In the Mind’s Eye

Sometimes we see
Things that will be —
A memory
Of tomorrow

Sometimes we find
It warm and kind
Sometimes our mind
Fills with sorrow

So some sweet day
In June or May
Bathed in sunrays
We remember

How you and I
Share burnt good-byes
Beneath the skies
Of November

Sasha A. Palmer

  • The above poem’s written in response to WD rhupunt challenge. There’s still time to enter: Deadline 11:59 p.m. (Atlanta, GA time) on February 28, 2018. WD Poetic Form challenges are free, and the winning poems (sometimes including a runner-up or two) are featured in Writer’s Digest magazine as part of the Poetic Asides column.

It often pays off to read comments to posts. Thinking of submitting your poetry to journals? Not crazy about submission fees? Check out this list of “younger, hungrier” journals provided by Joe Cottonwood in a comment thread on The Passive Voice site:

  • “Allegro, Ink Sweat & Tears, Literary Nest, MOON magazine, Nature Writing, Peacock Journal, Plum Tree Tavern, Poetry Breakfast, Rat’s A** Review, Red Eft Review, Roanoke Review, Snapdragon, Third Wednesday, Verse Virtual, San Pedro River Review, Pure Slush, Freshwater, Stoneboat, Muddy River Poetry Review, Red River Review, Gyroscope, Uppagus, Halfway Down the Stairs, Forage, Potomac Review, Slipstream, Picaroon… All these journals require no submission fee; all have some excellent undiscovered poets (and a few clunkers, but then so does the New Yorker).”

Got a name or two to add to this list? Share in the comments.

Happy writing, submitting, and getting published.

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Image: Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Autumn Landscape (Paysage d’automne), c. 1884. Oil on canvas (later mounted to fiberboard), Painting: 25 9/16 x 21 1/4 in. (65 x 54 cm) Overall (with secondary support): 26 1/4 x 22 3/8 in. (66.7 x 56.8 cm). BF933. Public Domain.


Instapoetry & Literary Criticism; or You’re Free to Express Your Opinion, unless You Aren’t


  • “PG doesn’t claim to be an expert on all 21st century poets and writers, but doubts any have written anything like the following excerpts…” — David Vandagriff (aka PG) states his personal point of view, then proceeds with this quote from The Solitary Reaper, 1807 by Wordsworth:

I listened, motionless and still;
And, as I mounted up the hill,
The music in my heart I bore,
Long after it was heard no more.

It’s fair to assume PG is not Rupi Kaur’s fan. What if he decided to criticize her Instapoetry? He wouldn’t be ostracized because of his poetic preferences, would he?..

  • “Most often, it seems, when the poet in question is a young woman of color, critics will be particularly intent on proving by a+b why her brand of poetry is blandly generic, consumerist in nature, trite and predictable. This is also often the opportunity for critics to dish out their definitions of what characterizes “good” or “bad” poetry—and those definitions are often shaped by voices from past centuries. Those voices most often happen to be older, if not dead, straight white males, and the critics justify their choice by highlighting the supposed impermanence and universality of their criticism. … Hailing Wordsworth as the end-all in terms of how we must consider poetry implies we’re erasing so much context—political, social, economic, cultural—from the equation. (How could you possibly use Harold Bloom to talk about gender, outside of a narrow, hypermasculine view?) ” — argues A.K. Afferez.

She condemns the practice of placing moral labels “good/bad” on texts. By analogy, placing a label “bad” on human beings, and marginalizing them because of their sexuality, race, and genderstraight, white malesseems “at best misguided”, doesn’t it?

Do you question “the profound instability, the slipperiness of any (italics mine) written text”? Do you always feel free to voice your opinion?

Share in the comments.

  • The notorious “toxic masculinity” may have a profound effect on a female writer:

“I had a really good father, and two really good grandfathers, and three really good brothers—far more men in my life than women, in fact. Probably that’s why I don’t think of male characters as being all that foreign to me. The biggest stretch I’ve had to make is reminding myself that men need to shave in the morning.” — Anne Tyler.

If you enjoyed the post, press “like” and “share” buttons — thank you.


Image: Houston Police SWAT officer Daryl Hudeck carries Catherine Pham and her 13-month-old son Aiden after rescuing them from their home surrounded by floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey. (David J. Phillip/AP Photo)





Ouch! The Real Cost of Poetry Book Contests

Young Man and Skull (Jeune homme à la tête de mort)

“Everyone, including aspiring poets, including even those stuck in the MFA system, would be better off if the contest system were abolished, and publishers once again took responsibility for promoting individual strong aesthetics, rather than outsourcing the decision at every stage, and supporting safe conformist meeting-room-style outcomes.”

“Numerous contest finals and wins validated my work. Indeed, I ultimately found my agent and publisher through contests.” — Kristin Bartley Lenz

So, how do you feel about contests? Share in the comments.

  • In case you feel like entering a free poetry contest, try the rhupunt challenge for a chance to get published in Writer’s Digest.

If you like this post, press the “like” and “share” buttons — thank you.


Image credit: Paul Cézanne. Young Man and Skull (Jeune homme à la tête de mort), 1896–1898. Oil on canvas, Overall: 51 3/16 x 38 3/8 in. (130 x 97.5 cm). BF929. Public Domain.






“Curious Wonder” vs. “Critical Judgement”, or Ways to Read Poetry

Reading (La Lecture)

  • Emily Dickinson is nobody’s business but my own. I will not share her with anyone. I would no more tell you about my relationship with her poems than I would tell you about a love affair. If she is yours, I hope you feel the same way.” —  from Mary Ruefle’s essay “My Emily Dickinson” quoted in The Paris Review
  • “Some are surprised that the rigorous analytical approach PG learned to apply to poetry has served him quite well in analyzing contracts and other legal documents.” — from the Passive Guy’s post on The Passive Voice blog

How do you read poetry? Do you as a reader note, for instance, prosody — the patterns of rhythm and sound? In your opinion, should poetry be analyzed? Simply enjoyed? Both? Do share in the comments.

  • Just one more thing (as Columbo would say): head over to Indies Unlimited to vote for your favorite flash fiction entry (will it be mine?). Hurry: the voting closes at 5 pm Pacific time today. Thank you.
  • For some strange technical reason when I post the link to the voting page, it doesn’t open properly: it shows the results, and doesn’t give you an option to vote. So, if you really really want to vote for your favorite entry, please go to Indies Unlimited, open the post ‘Which “Ocean of Sand” Flash Fiction Story Gets Your Vote?’, and vote from there. This should work. Thank you.

And if you enjoyed this post, press those “like” and “share” buttons. Thank you again.

Image credit: Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Reading (La Lecture), c. 1891. Oil on canvas, Overall: 18 1/8 x 22 1/16 in. (46 x 56 cm). BF107. Public Domain.