Poetry Update

Some news from my poet-self:

I have three poems online at Paper Darts, and they are illustrated beyond my wildest dreams by Paper Darts artist Seth Young. Thank you, Seth. 

These three poems are part of my first chapbook, forthcoming from dancing girl press this fall. 

I have another poem in the latest Beecher's Magazine, from my Paphos/David/Metharme/Venus series. The journal is quite well-made, and has some sexy attention to detail (check out the rounded corners). I especially like the cover paper and end sheets. Thanks, Beecher's team!

Other publications with my work that have come out since my last poetry post (back in January) include... 

And I can't remember if I've thanked Hayden's Ferry Review  or Parcel here. I love them.

One of my older poems, which I had not had published in a journal because I gifted it to my father, has made it to the side of a building in Highlandtown, a neighborhood in Baltimore, MD (my hometown). Check it:

I don't know who that lady is, but she seems as excited as I am. The poem is maybe 10, 11 feet tall!

And it's paired with some lovely sketches by my dad, Randy Sovich


You would think that now that I have my official Master of Fine Arts degree in hand, I'd be able to lay around all day watching TV with the cats. (Their favorite soap is "Flight of the Carpenter Bees")

But I've been pretty busy snooping around an abandoned house in Bermuda...

...eating cannoli in Waltham, MA, visiting my poem (!!) in Baltimore, MD... and now cutting up and cooking this raw cotton fiber.  Soon I'll be making at least 300 sheets of abaca-cotton paper for my Book Arts thesis. This is a 14 lb bag of cotton fiber, next to my 14 lb cat on an ottoman of indeterminate weight.

I can only fit about 2 lbs of cotton in a big ol' pot to cook, and each batch has to cook for at least 4 hours. I've got my work cut out for me!

One MFA down, one to go.

While I was in Michigan a few weeks ago for the utterly fantastic Paper and Book Intensive, I got an official-sounding email from my university stating that my MFA defense was approved and my degree conferred.

Which is all really exciting, mostly because now I can turn my attention wholly to my final year of Book Arts. You know, now that I've spent two weeks enjoying Michigan birches along a lagoon and experiencing a lot of firsts.

Making this book from scratch in a class on Anabaptist binding with the ambitious Chela Metzger and Erin Hammeke... Just to give you a sense, here, we started with a textblock, but did everything from there: punched, sewed on raised cords on a sewing frame, consolidated and lined the spine, shaped wooden boards, adhered them to the textblock, shaped them some more (I'd never planed before, and certainly never while the boards were on the book), speckled the textblock edges, covered in gorgeous calf leather provided by Pergemena (my favorite leather tanner)... then cut and dapped and bossed brass for corner and center pieces, and created these nifty, weird spine straps, and even made, from scratch, catchplates and hasps for the clasps (which we were never promised, but begged and pleaded until Erin showed us how to use an anvil, two different vice jaws, a peen hammer for riveting, and a jewler's saw)....

I'd never cut into leather after covering with it before. It's a violent, yet oddly delicate process:

But necessary for the insertion of catchplates for clasps (if you don't want your crummy metal snipping to show):

I'd never dapped and bossed before, and certainly never dapped and bossed directly into a block of lead. I present: The Moon.

These are my brass corner and centerpieces, all ready to be attached to the book:

And I'd never made a book with straps before. Isn't it strapping? The straps are attached just past the shoulders, so when you open the book, they pop off the book.

I'd never before paddled in a canoe across a lagoon to Lake Michigan to watch the sunset with new friends.

In Priscilla Spitler's class on edition binding, I learned many time-saving techniques that will help me when I edition my thesis book (and every other book I edition hereafter). It's one thing to know that jigs are helpful. It's another to get a good sense of how to come up with a jig to get the job done, and to understand when you might be able to use a jig in the first place.

I had never made a sheet of paper quite this large before taking Ann Marie Kennedy's Paper and Place class. This sheet about as large as a decent flat-screen TV. I'd also never used so many different fibers at once before... certainly addictive! We had vats of hemp, flax, abaca, bamboo, and various mixtures that included onion grass, day lily leaves, dried lagoon grass, and more.

I had never taken a selfie while hula hooping before.

And here's an endband Sam Feinstein showed us for PBI PM, an informal workshop we managed to get together twice (amazing, considering how much homework we had and how much sleep we needed).

I made a ridiculous amount of new friends, too. The book arts world is a tight-knit one, where it seems everyone is eager to share and teach and learn and relearn and watch and make ridiculous paper costumes and dance to 50s music in them.

3 Newsy Newsbites

To kick off the new year, dancing girl press just published Imago, a chapbook by my good friend and fellow poet Lindsay Lusby. I just ordered it, and I can't wait to hold it.  Go buy it too! Especially if you like eggplants, I'm just saying.

In other newsbites, two of my poems from a manuscript I'm calling Binding the Body are in the latest and Lisa Frank-est issue of Caketrain yet: Issue 11. Please go buy Caketrain and support a really phenomenal press as well as um, you know, my work. Say what you will about print vs. online, but oooh baby is Caketrain sexy.

In other other newsbites, I found out this week that I'm one of eight finalists for the Fall 2013 Black River Chapbook Competition over at Black Lawrence Press. I'm crossing my fingers super tightly for more good news from them shortly. It looks like the competition is quite stiff. Woosh!

And for good luck, I'll leave you with a photo of my case bindings from last spring that my friend Kate Barber helped me take recently to beef up my portfolio's professionality:

Happy New Year

I was super excited to receive my contributor's copies of Hayden's Ferry Review the other day. I read in their awesome online reading, which the fantabulous Sam Martone organized, and back then it appeared everyone else had received copies -- aaand mine was back in Tuscaloosa while I was visiting Boston. Whoops.

Also exciting was the arrival of Parcel, right before my winter vacation. (I'd have a picture of Hayden's Ferry Review but a cat is sleeping on my arm and purring really loudly and so I am even typing this one-handed. Later.) Both journals have poems from my thesis... and from the chapbook that is coming out with dancing girl press much later this year.

I'm not a big fan of resolutions. I'm afraid of commitment... or perhaps I'd like to think my efforts to improve myself are more adaptable and more frequently established. But there's something to be said for this weird space at the start of the year, where class and work haven't quite started back up yet... and something to be said for this blog space.

1. I find myself nearly thirty (only a couple more years left to chase the Ruth Lilly fellowships) and ridiculously out of shape, so in 2014 I'll continue to attempt to establish an exercise routine that works for me (eating cookies does not burn enough calories to be helpful, apparently). Good thing I attend a university that has a good gym.

2. I have to finish my creative writing thesis by April 4th of this year, so that might as well be a resolution.Woo.

3. I'll figure out how to afford my final year of gradual school (for book arts), by applying to assistantships, fellowships, and jobs and waiting impatiently for the results. 2013 was the year of establishing in-state residency for tuition purposes, and I succeeded. Woot.

4. Everything else I can think of, I'm already doing, albeit slowly and inconsistently in some cases. I've got an erratic but viable writing schedule which I supplement by using any downtime to send work out to journals. I'm busy but as focused as I realistically can be. I'm taking the time for side projects in both book arts and poetry. I will never achieve the right balance between me time, family time, friend time, and cats time. Let's face it: cat time and me time are the same thing. I'm going to AWP (it'd be nice to read for someone), and I'm going to Bermuda, and I'm going to Ox Bow Michigan. I want to make paper again this year. I will make paper again this year. Am I doing this right?

Publications Update

On the writing front...

The gorgeous online journal alice blue just published their 21st issue, and included two of my poems. I'm honored. I have loved this journal for a while now.

My mother, who does not read this blog (who told me so today), actually read the alice blue poems "because they're online and I didn't have to use Paypal."

My chapbook, None of Us Know Any Stories, will be published by dancing girl press next year. I am over the moon with glee. It helps that I have several good friends who have work in, and others who soon will have work in, dgp's admirable catalog. In fact, there is a sale on right now: you can buy three chapbooks for $10 plus $2 shipping, so go buy some. I bought...

Future Skirt by Laura Kochman
Time Travel: Theory and Practice by Katie Berger
the killing of the angel of the house by Leia Penina Wilson

Other publications that have been so kind as to publish my work recently include the inspiring Sundog Lit, the large and in charge Gargoyle, and the galactic JERRY. I'm proud to grace their pages, web or print.

I say Sundog Lit is inspiring in part because the Games Issue's theme inspired me to write my first ever video game poems, but also because I shared a few choice Games Issue poems (certainly not my own!) to my Poetry Tour students a couple weeks ago. These poems generated the best class discussion we've had all semester, which is saying something, because we have great class discussions even on a slow day.

I have reviewed proofs for a couple other publications coming out soon. I can't wait to tell you, internet, about those.

Last week one of my poetry students said, "gee, Emma, I Googled you recently, didn't realize it'd be so easy to find your poems" -- to which I ducked my head and mumbled "Yeaaaah" and the class laughed at/with me.

My Twitter account will remain private....

Adventures in Book Conservation

I've been teaching English 101 and Poetry Tour and most of my students are earnest and lovely people. I have been thesising. Yes, thesising is a verb in my life. I have been reading Citizen J by the brilliant Daniela. Daniela, who will be in town soon (September 12) for a reading, The Artificial Houndstooth Reading, which will precede a house party featuring the band KRILL.

But I'll just sit these here. These are my babies:

I have removed their spines delicately but without anesthetics, for the purposes of bettering them. For example, this book started with a leather spine (calf), in certain disrepair.

I furthered the disrepair with the aid of a blunt knife.

Side view, just pretty. Look at that marbling. The marbling is going to be a bear to line back up neatly.

Scrape scrape scrape. Leather, glue, going going gone.

With the help of goop, suddenly I could see the sections underneath all that glue!
Incidentally, animal glue reconstituted smells like dead things.

 With the spine free of glue (FREEEE AT LAST!), it was time to break the book, section by section.

Until all of the sections were independant.

It is important to keep track of who follows whom.

In the end, the book looks like a rattier book if you stack it neatly with the covers.

I found a lock of hair among the pages of one of the other books. Gross. Romantic? It was the Illiad. In Greek, so I'm not exactly sure if the page carries romantic significance.

Bluestem, Cellpoems, Pushcarts, Oh My

A poem of mine went up on Bluestem today (thanks, Bluestem!). You can find it here, along with other good things to read, like Emma Ramadan's "Found," which jumped out at me as haltingly tumbling and fun to read.

Thanks, Conte: A Journal of Narrative Writing, for kindly nominating my poem for Pushcart consideration! I've never been a nominee before.  I should probably acquire one of those t-shirts. T-shirt or no, I'm ridiculously flattered.

Speaking of Pushcarts, snarky boyfriend says I shouldn't nominate BWR contributors for Pushcarts because I'd be hurting my chances of winning. Snark or no, a Pushcart for a BWR contributor is a Pushcart for me in my heart -- seriously. If you're curious, I've posted our list of nominees for 2012 here. If you love me you'll be hoping for any of these six writers to win as much as you're hoping for me.

Speaking of writing, I've narrowly managed to fail NaNoWriMo: Poetry Edition, which is my dear friend Lindsay's version of NaNoWriMo (I just followed along) in which we wrote a poem a day for the month of November -- instead of 1500 words a day or some such nonsense. Now, we've both managed to write toward larger projects, or rather, we've both found that the poems we've written are linked. So we've ended up writing the better part of a book of poetry each. 

I say I failed narrowly because I think I'm two or three poems behind... and suddenly I find it's December 1. Whoops. I'll be writing the last few tonight and tomorrow... 

...in between reading The Master and Margarita, reading Sisaphus Rex in the graveyard, twirling around in my first ModCloth purchase, playing Magic, playing Settlers of Catan, reading galleys for BWR 39.2, tomorrow's galley meeting for 39.2, making apple cider caramels, playing freeze tag, snuggling with my cats... you know, all of these important writerly things.

Always behind, always ahead

I'm really happy to have a poem (poem? prose?) online at Hobart. You may quickly realize that I was in some way influenced by Kathy Acker, among others. I had the most fun writing this poem than I've had writing a poem in a while, so it's nice to see it out there on the intarwubs.



I've already crowed about it on the book of faces, but my very first BWR has arrived, and I love it. I love everything in it. Love love love love. Get you yours here (er, as soon as we can get BWR 39.1 listed for purchase).

And yet! My time as BWR editor has all kinds of threads which are beginning to tie themselves off.  Today was my last poetry meeting. To come: my last feature meeting, my last galleys 1-4, my last blues, my last decisiveness when facing the last gorgeous cover options my design editor offers. I'm happy to continue working with my awesome genre, managing, and design editors right up through the end of the semester. Then the holidays, AWP, and some lasts I'd rather not imagine yet.  It's too early to reminisce, to nostalgize. Vomit. Still, some firsts left, too.


Whenever I have free time, I spend it playing Magic the Gathering with friends, or eating out more than I ought, or traveling three hours each way to see Ann Carson read, or watching the Bama Theater Art House movies every week, or getting ahead in reading for class. Fall is my favorite time of year, and I am finally doing things I always envy others for but never seem to do: waking up "early," going for walks, reading in the sunlight, absorbing myself in crafts. And pumpkin carving. (My friend's was more impressive.)


The binding class I'm taking has absorbed me. I'll be taking the next section of it in the spring. People at the Kentuck Festival of the Arts bought two of my nicest books and a package of two double-pamphlets. I now have cash to pay for the unbound version of the gorgeous Webster's Pictorial Dictionary, which I'll use for a project next semester.

I am in love with boxes and Japanese silk book cloth. I am in love with color matching and paste making. I am in love with structural circles in my stitching.

I am trying to figure out which book to give to my creative writing mentee, who has been brightening my Mondays all semester.


If I seem overly cheery and productive, well, you should know I haven't swept or vacuumed in over a month and I accidentally locked my roommate out of the house, which inconvenienced her by two and a half hours and two miles, after her run. And that's all I'll admit to the internet.

Knee-deep in contest entries

I'm extremely pleased at the high quality of contest entries we received. Although this means deciding upon a winner will be quite difficult. Thank goodness we have contest judges, yeesh.


I'm taking a book binding class in the book arts program, and it's the most satisfying class I've had in a long while. I love workshops and lit classes, but there's something about the immediate utility of bound books that has a similar pull for me as ceramics. (Though I've had difficulty making time to properly investigate the Clay Co-op down the street.)

The repetition and precision and craft of binding are what comfort and thrill me. When it comes to making creative choices (cover choice, varied materials, colors, etc) I bump up against the mental exhaustion that makes writing more of a chore these days. But because the emphasis of this class is craft, is practice, I feel as if I'm somehow strengthening the creative part of my brain. Like when I took Robin's forms class (and before that, in Baltimore, Ed Perlman's forms class).


Kellie Wells's class on Fabulism has single-handedly refreshed my joy in reading and talking about writing.


This weekend, my cousin married his girlfriend of ten years, on their ten-year dating anniversary. I'm ridiculously happy for them, and admire their love, confidence, courage, and downright love of life. I'm also impressed at how perfect a wedding it seemed, simple but beautiful, and highly personalized.

And really this is all I ever need.

Tomatoes -- mostly Roma, some Sungold -- from the garden, lightly sauteed with basil from the garden and garlic. Doesn't even need cheese.

In other news, boyfriend visited, and now my computer is both Jeckyll and Hyde: he kindly partitioned the hard drive with BootCamp and installed Windows so we can play all of the games together long distance. This bodes poorly for my writing. I might have to learn a thing or two from Oliu and put all the forthcoming "research" to good use.

The lovely dog remains, which is nice, because boyfriend left.  She's getting along famously with the cats, which is surprising only because the cats aren't fond of dogs other than Harvey (my roommate's dog).

OH, and Laura and I did a joint Black Warrior Radio show today. Catch one of us next week 12-2 as usual!

A break, but now, Rs

Right Hand Pointing

I had a bit of a panic when the first poem from this wave of submissions got picked up, because I realized I had sent it to thirty-one publications... which meant I then had to withdraw it from thirty publications. That took some time, and some thought.  I was also spending far more time on sending poems out than on writing them. The game plan needed adjustment.

So now I'm attempting to write at least one poem and revise at least one poem a day, in addition to submitting. What I revise, I'll send out to journals (if the poem feels finally complete, and if any for the day seem like a potential fit for the work). This should mean less overlap between publications... we'll see...

So far, two acceptances, two of what we'll call... queries, six rejections, and thirty-eight withdrawals since I began 23 days ago.

Ls and summer

The Lifted Brow
Lines + Stars
Literary Laundry
The Literary Review
Loaded Bicycle
The Lumberyard

Every time I despair of a letter and consider sending to only three or four journals of that letter, I end up sending work to a sixth.

Also, I'm up to three rejections since this project started.


Today was: morning work, cleaning, writing, thrifting, Bananagrams, birthday partying around a mini grill, and a phone argument with my brother, who just found out he got a new job. Congratulations, brother, for sticking it to the man and coming out on top. Um. Maybe this is why he yells at me.


Tomorrow/latertoday: pain au chocolat, more working cleaning/laundry, packing, Homegrown Alabama Farmer's Market, and chocolate peach pasta with themuppetface and her sister.

Ks and things

Keyhole Magazine
kill author
Kudzu Review

The tomatoes my friend and I planted are thriving.  A handful have blossom end rot, but we can take steps to fix that.  Our basil and carrots and watermelon and eggplant seem to be doing well, too, but the lettuce and bok choy have succumbed to bugs and the chard, beets, and spinach are going the same way.


I've been writing two letters for BWR.  Letters are far more difficult to write when you've been writing emails and submission cover letters.  One letter is the editors' letter for the next issue, my first issue writing the letter, and the other letter is a template relating to the issue after that.   It creates a weird space, looking forward and behind and forward all at once.


There's a fresh grave in the cemetery. There must be a job word for the guys who come and dig and set up the coffin.  Anyway, they gave me a nod as I drove by the other day, on my way to work at a friend's.  I was glad to be out all day–I must have missed a funeral.  When I got home, the coffin and hole were replaced by a mound with a little orange flag on a wiry pole.

I've not yet had to drive past a funeral here.


Today: Challah french toast using themuppetface's and her sister's gorgeous homemade challah, then the on-campus waterpark and of course work.

Late night Hs with a hungry cat

Harvard Review
Hawaii Review
Hayden's Ferry Review
Heavy Feather
Hobo Pancakes

Is later today. Many of my favorite Hs are closed at the moment.


So far, I've sent poems to around 40 journals/magazines/reviews.  This is already starting to feel like a blistering pace.


My black cat is acting like the new food is poison, which means he's hungry a lot the past day or so, which means he's much more snuggly. Too bad he can't lose weight by not eating without getting fatty liver disease. Too bad I can't have all the snuggles.

A through D

A capella Zoo
Able Muse
Artichoke Haircut

Bluestem Magazine
BOXCAR Poetry Review
The Baltimore Review

Camera Obscura
(Conduit and Court Green postal)

Dark Sky Magazine
Drunken Boat


Es later today.


It's probably important to note that I'm reading current and/or back issues of these journals where I can and selecting poems to send them that I hope might fit.


A summer project: Send poems, etc., to five journals a day, beginning with journals whose names begin with A and progressing through the alphabet daily. The goal is to discover some new journals and send to them as well as journals I know and love.

The goal is also to read more journals regularly by the end of the summer.

So far, I'm in the Ds.