Cave Wall 2.

I did at last receive my rejection from Cave Wall (, and I have to say, if I weren’t already happily married with child etc, I would totally fall in love with the editor. Seriously. That was the single greatest rejection ever! — loaded with comments & praise — subscribe now, Rhett (the editor) is awesome, she deserves beaucoup rewards for such generosity! And as I mentioned earlier, it’s an excellent journal, too.

I won’t go so far as to say a great rejection is better than an acceptance, but I’ll be carrying this envelope around with me for a while.

Snow. Falling. Down.

That’s how Vincent speaks, one word, full stop, then the next. And no more than three words in a row. But we understand each other, and that’s a constant revelation: we look at each other in utter astonishment several times every day.

So it’s snowing again, very hard, much much snow. It’s been snowing since early December. You’d think we lived on a Great Lake the amount it’s snowed this winter. I’m almost beyond the whining to simply being stunned — how much can it snow in one winter anyway?

Chase Twichell, soon-to-be-former publisher of Ausable Press, is a phenomenal poet in her own right, and her collection, The Snow Watcher, has my snow poem of choice:


Every day it snows an inch or two,
muting the music in the pines.
Old music.

Snow holds back the dawn–
an extra minute of lying here
while the self sleeps on.

Walking home after midnight,
two miles to go. The snow
is telling a story two miles long.

Dead trucks for sale in the yards.
New trucks plough the roads
of the dying towns.

If ever I flee to wilderness to die,
it will be to snow. Thus this snow
at bed time comforts me.

Graywolf Press

I’m sitting in bed with my new laptop, cat at my feet. Vincent’s asleep, Lance went for a walk — silence but for the ticking clock. Serene winter evening.  Let’s hope it doesn’t all go to hell.


In terms of small presses, Graywolf Press is practically a venerable graybeard. It’s been around a while now, it’s a very successful press, their books get reviewed widely, and distribution is by Macmillan, who also distributes St. Martin’s Press, Henry Holt, and Farrar, Straus & Giroux. Graywolf books are even in the back of the FS&G catalog. This is great visibility for a small press.

And the Graywolf poetry list is reliably top-notch. New books forthcoming:

  • Colosseum, by Katie Ford. June, paperback, $15.00. A new book of poems from the poetry editor of the New Orleans Review. Excerpt: If you respect the dead/ and recall where they died/ by this time tomorrow/ there will be nowhere to walk.
  • Matter of Fact, by Eamon Grennan. June, paperback, $15.00. Excerpt: Don’t look back. Think Orpheus. Pillar of salt./ One breath, then another. Sweat of apprehension./ Still life with wind and breadcrumbs.
  • Letters to a Stranger, by Thomas James. Introduction by Lucie Brock-Broido. July, paperback, $15.00. A new book in the Graywolf Poetry Re/View Series, edited by Mark Doty, which is dedicated to bringing essential books of contemporary American poetry back into print. Excerpt: I will last forever. I am not impatient–/ My skin will wait to greet its old complexions./ I’ll lie here till the world swims back again.
  • Best Thought, Worst Thought: Art, Sex, Work, and Death, aphorisms by Don Paterson. August, hardcover, $18.00. “The male genitals are worn externally as evolution is in the process of expelling them from the body. Another million years and they’ll be stored in a drawer.”

As a bookseller, my knowledge can be limited to the catalogs I receive, the sales reps I meet. So I know Copper Canyon Press, Tupelo Press, and a whole host of others I hope to cover, are distributed by Consortium/ Perseus/ PGW / Whatever they’re calling themselves these days. Small Press Distribution (SPD) distributes a continent of small presses. And they’re (SPD) non-profit. (I wish their catalog was more like Consortium’s, which gives each frontlist book at least half a page. I have to work very hard to read an entire SPD catalog.) Being somewhat plugged into the poetry blogosphere has also introduced me to some fantastic small presses.

All of which goes to say that, while I’m gathering intel, it’s easy to miss good stuff, especially if a press doesn’t have a distributor or great online visibility, so if you have a favorite small press, please, go ahead & tell me about it! How else am I to learn?

FYI: Soap in mouth=yucky.

Vincent is much calmer this evening, sitting at the table eating his blueberry “ee-gurt” (i.e. yogurt), but last night was an entirely different story. Among another unspeakable acts, he decided to eat a chunk of soap — I guess it looked creamy & delicious to him — but oh, the reaction once it was in his mouth — he yowled & yowled. You’d think he’d eaten poison.

Marvelous. Who am I kidding? I just went to check on him, and there he was, grinning & holding out his yogurt-covered hands which he was using to paint the table…


He’s jealous, he wants me to get off my new toy, a “new” laptop I bought at this great used typewriter store in Amherst. Very cheap, it’s a used PowerBook, a big step up from my old ibook — and it has wireless! Whee!


A poet I really like who haven’t seen a new book from for a while is Gjertrud Schnackenberg. Her collection, Supernatural Love: Poems 1976-1992 is so subtle and elegant, the language so rich. The following poem is one of my favorites:

Snow Melting

Snow melting when I left you, and I took
This fragile bone we’d found in melting snow
Before I left, exposed beside a brook
Where raccoons washed their hands. And this, I know,

Is that raccoon we’d watched for every day.
Though at the time her wild human hand
Had gestured inexplicably, I say
Her meaning now is more than I can stand.

We’ve reasons, we have reasons, so we say,
For giving love, and for withholding it.
I who would love must marvel at the way
I know aloneness when I’m holding it,

Know near and far as words for live and die,
Know distance, as I’m trying to draw near,
Growing immense, and know, but don’t know why,
Things seen up close enlarge, then disappear.

Tonight this small room seems too huge to cross.
And my life is that looming kind of place.
Here, left with this alone, and at a loss
I hold an alien and vacant face

Which shrinks away, and yet is magnified–
More so than I seem able to explain.
Tonight the giant galaxies outside
Are tiny, tiny on my windowpane.

University Press Round-up 3.

I expect this will my last post on university presses, unless I discover I’ve missed something particularly glaring, because I really want to start focusing on small presses. But there are still a few exciting books to mention from the university presses:

University of Iowa Press

  • Women Poets on Mentorship: Efforts and Affections, edited by Arielle Greenberg & Rachel Zucker. May, paperback, $24.95. Includes Beth Ann Fennelly on Denise Duhamel, Katie Ford on Jorie Graham, Aimee Nezhukumatathil on Naomi Shihab Nye. This is very exciting — I’d love to see the full table of contents.

Southern Illinois University Press

  • A Murmuration of Starlings, by Jake Adam York. February, paperback, $14.95. This collection elegizes the martyrs of the civil rights movement.
  • The Sphere of Birds, by Ciaran Berry. February, paperback, $14.95. I love the musicality of Berry’s poems: …the sky alters in seconds, shine to shower,/ and harsher truths hit home hour after hour–/ the sundew snagging flies, settling to eat,/ a fat gull’s fractured keen that cuts through stone.

Swallow Press (Ohio University Press)

  • Azores, by David Yezzi. March, paperback, $12.95. A new book of poems by the executive editor of the New Criterion.

University of Chicago Press

  • Still Here, Still Now, by Robert Pack. April, hardcover, $22.00. Described as “one of America’s most eminent nature poets,” this is a major new collection, clocking in at 128 pages.

Phoenix Poets Series

  • Chameleon Hours, by Elise Partridge. April, paperback, $15.00. Sad rower pushed from shore,/ I’ll disappear like circles summoned/ by an oar’s dip. I want this book, too.
  • Blessings for the Hands, by Matthew Schwartz. April, paperback, $14.00. Fireflies/ apparently stumbling.// I slapped one on my leg./ Its blood glowed. This looks promising.
  • Rare High Meadow of Which I Might Dream, by Connie Voisine. March, paperback, $14.00. There are some bodies that emerge/ into desire as a god/ rises from the sea, emotion and/ memory hand like dripping clothes…

University of Pittsburgh Press

Pitt Poetry Series

  • The Endarkenment, by Jeffrey McDaniel. April, paperback, $14.00. The one & only poetry workshop I’ve attended was taught by McDaniel, and it was a very positive experience. He’s a dynamic reader also.

So there we are, done with the university presses for this season. I’ve skipped Yale & Harvard, and perhaps will have to make up for that, but for now, this will do. Don’t you think?

The Accidental Pugilist.

Vincent and I decided to go for a walk today before the big storm arrived, and, as is customary, we ended by heading for the Glacial Potholes. Vincent was carrying a large chunk of frozen snow that he was keen to pitch into the rushing water, and I let him because, well, he looked so determined and adorable doing it.

This story could not possibly end well.

As he carried his little iceberg, Vincent tripped on another, and smacked his face into the one in his hands. He responded very well, actually, crying briefly, and then pointed to the Potholes and cried, “Waterfall! Waterfall!” so we continued our walk, but I’m ever so thankful that I at least had a napkin in my pocket to press to his bleeding nose. He looks like he went a round or two in the ring with Tonya Harding.

Super-Power Delusions.

I’m a Buffy fan, and once in a while, not often, but once in a while I have these dreams — don’t we all have these unspoken assumptions, when watching shows like Buffy or Heroes that we would be one of the strong ones, whatever the struggle, we’d triumph & survive. So sometimes I have these superhero-type dreams, and I had one the other night:

Every year about this time an Epic Battle is waged between the forces of Good & Evil. Good always wins, but is not without losses. I am, naturally, on the team of Good, and we usually gather a day before the expected Arrival of Evil. Apparently we have no other contact but for the Battle. We don’t call beforehand, meet for coffee & comparisons of our crime-fighting year, or schedule the Battle. It’s a given.

But this year, as the Hour approaches, there are only 3 of us. It seems to have occurred to the other forces for Good that their number could be up should they engage in yet another Epic Battle, and they’ve decided to err on the side of caution & stay home this year. And I’m beginning to feel seriously screwed. Sure, I have super-powers (unfortunately & strangely unidentified), but there are only 3 of us against All of Evil.

As Emma might say, oh dear goodness.

We pace, we mutter, one of us (not me) cried, and time passed without the Arrival of Evil. One of us (not me) checked her Blackberry, and then laughed nervously.

We’d gotten the date wrong. Armageddon isn’t actually due for another month, tra-la!

I think there might be something deeply wrong with me.

Kimberley Rogers.

As promised, I have a poem by Kimberley Rogers, she who so recently graced us with a powerful reading at the Collected Poets Series, to share. I love this poem, and not just because I am done done done with winter. Its verve is infectious and just plain fun! Enjoy:

Neon Daisies #8

Neon daisies—dozens of them—
food-dye drunk, splashed heads jostling
in paper, showing shoppers fringy upturned skirts;
spooned leaves gesturing.
Violet fevered, lapis–lipped, coral rouged.
Butter suns! Inflorescent pastiche!
Little exhibitionists at the electric threshold!

I’ll take three bunches for my mantle.

Cave Wall.

The Winter/Spring 2008 issue of  Cave Wall ( arrived in my mailbox today.  This issue’s contributors include Charles Harper Webb, Tracy K. Smith, James Harms, and Jennifer Grotz, and art by Hector Ruiz.  I really like this new poetry journal (this is their 3rd issue), it’s one of the many I subscribe to.  The poems are accessible and absorbing, and I often find myself finishing a poem only to go right back to the beginning again.  From the beginning of Jennifer Grotz’s “The Tulips”:   How individual they become when they die:/ I love the vase of tulips most then./ Each one relinquishes modesty and withers/ into its last expression.

And Cave Wall is cheap, only $5 per issue!   Yes, I like them very much.  I’m awaiting my rejection from them even so.