Lost and Found

So late last month, I got my first acceptance of the year. It was for a found poem that will be appearing in Unlost Journal in April.

After receiving the acceptance, I thought, Why not write a post about found poetry?

Since there are plenty of resources about found poetry on the web, I won’t try to define what found poetry is. (Besides Unlost, you should check out Poets.org and the Found Poetry Review.) Instead, my goal here today is to inspire you to try writing found poetry since it is fun to do.

Now, by no means am I a found poetry expert. I still have yet to try an erasure or a cento, but I have had a few pieces published.

Also, there are people who can make a poem out of anything. I’m not one of those people (at least not yet).

However, I did manage to craft a poem using text from a copywriting book. That poem, “Wisdom,” was published in Five 2 One’s #thesideshow.

To create that poem, I picked a random chapter in Joseph Sugarman’s The Adweek Copywriting Handbook (in this case, Chapter 17), and started circling words (or parts of words) and phrases. Some of them were just prepositions (e.g., of, into) that by themselves do not have poetic value but are needed for the poem as a whole. Along the way, I also found some phrases that might be good in a poem; for example, here’s a paragraph from page 103 of Mr. Sugarman’s book (I hope he doesn’t mind if I borrow it):

With less copy, your ad will look less imposing to the prospect and he or she will be more likely to read it. The second advantage is that you are making the slippery slide even more slippery by making it shorter. Your prospect will get to the bottom of the slide much faster, yet still get the full impact on your sales message.

From this, I ended up circling the slippery slide, get to the bottom, and impact. If you read “Wisdom,” you may have noticed that I used all three of these. However, you may have noticed that they’re used with other words that do not appear in the paragraph. These words were taken from other pages in the chapter (e.g., environment, which appears in the next paragraph). Sometimes I add a few words not in the source, but in this case, I only used words from the text. When I do add words, I try to add as few as possible since the idea of found poetry, after all, is to create something new from something already published.

So are you interested in found poetry? Do you have any additional resources you would like to share? Do you have any favorite found poetry books? Let me know in the comments.

Back in the Saddle

At the beginning of the month, I posted my goals for the year in one of the forums on Scribophile. Of course, I said I was going to write and submit more. But I also mentioned that I wanted to get back to writing regular posts for this blog.

So here I am. Nice to see you again.

For this entry, I thought I would keep it simple and just inform readers about what I’ve been up to lately.

  • Since November, I’ve been working on a horror story that’s right now is roughly 6,000 words long. I won’t talk too much about this now because I’m planning on making it the subject of a future blog post.
  • I completed a fiction piece that I began around this time last year and submitted it for publication.
  • I also finished a new poem I had started in December and submitted it for publication.
  • I began some experimental pieces. I’m not sure how successful these will turn out, but it’s been fun trying new forms.
  • Speaking of Scribophile, I had been absent from it during most of the fall, but I returned to it in late December. Since then, I’ve posted some of the new works mentioned above and critiqued poems and stories by others. As I’ve mentioned before, Scribophile is a valuable resource for writers. If you’re interested in improving your writing and meeting other writers, you should definitely check it out. (In case you’re wondering, no, I don’t work for them.)

That’s it for now. What have you been up to lately? Please tell me about it in the comments.

New Poems

Last week, not only were two of my fiction pieces published, but I had a total of eleven (!) poems published, too. Five of them were published in Five 2 One Magazine‘s special Election Week edition of #thesideshow.

Another poem, Martyr, was published in Boston Accent Lit.

And last but certainly not least, five more poems were published in Anti-Heroin Chic.

All of these are great publications. I would encourage you to check out other things they’ve published and follow them all on Twitter and Facebook.

Oh, I would also encourage you to submit to them.

A Good Rejection

In my last post, I mentioned that August was not the greatest month in terms of my writing. Well, since then, I received three more rejections, bringing my grand total for August up to 11. This is a case where turning it up to 11 is not a good thing.

Yes, rejections sting. No matter how many times you get published, that email saying “we’re going to pass” or that red “Declined” next to your submission in Submittable is always painful.

Yet, believe it or not, there was one rejection I received last month that later turned into an acceptance. And no, it wasn’t a case of an editor changing his or her mind or the result of some kind of black magic.

I simply submitted some poems to a new journal, which we’ll call Journal A. This new pub specializes in poetry that is weird and unusual. At the time, Journal A only had one poem posted, so they didn’t have many examples of what they were looking for. Even though I was unsure whether my poems were a good fit for them, I decided to give it a shot anyway.

In a little over an hour, I received an email from the editors. It was one of these “we enjoyed the poems but they’re not for us” type of emails. (I’m not going to post the whole letter because there are parts of it that may give away the publication.) I’ve received these before, but this one had something different:

We highly recommend sending your poems to [Journal B] they publish poems that are brilliantly executed but slightly off normal, We are confident they would find a place for your excellent poems.

Of course, I sent my poems to Journal B right away. Three hours and twelve minutes later, they accepted one of my poems, which will be published in November.

Now, for those new to submitting work for publication, this doesn’t happen too often. Editors may wish you the best of luck in trying to find another home for your story or poem, but they usually don’t recommend which pub you should try next. In fact, this was my first time I had received such an email, and it may be the last.

Still, this is a good reminder that sometimes we get rejected not because our work is bad but because it may not fit a publication’s aesthetic. And we shouldn’t give up on a piece (at least not right away) if it gets rejected a few times. Of course, there are times when you’ll have to revisit a piece and determine whether it needs to be revised, but if you feel the piece is the best it could be, stick with it.

When it eventually gets accepted and you want to celebrate, then you can turn it up to 11.

Until next time,

Chris

Braving the Dog Days of Summer

Edna O’Brien once titled a novel August Is a Wicked Month. Well, it’s been wicked. Here in eastern Massachusetts, we’ve had to deal with many days of oppressive humidity. (Not that I should complain – another long New England winter is just around the corner.) Drive around here, and you’ll see a lot of brown patches in people’s front lawns because of the lack of rain. And I’m sure electric companies are profiting nicely from the overuse of air conditioners (although in all fairness, I do love sleeping in a cool room at night).

But for me, avoiding the heat hasn’t been the only challenge this month. I’ve also been trying to weather what has seemed to be a storm of rejections. As of this writing, I’m now up to eight this month. Of course, I’m sure people have received more than that in a month, but it’s still a lot.

One reason for all these rejections is I submitted a lot in July — eleven, to be exact. Of course, eleven submissions have the potential to be eleven rejections, although the opposite could happen, too.

As far as submissions this month, I haven’t sent out as many. For starters, I’ve had to deal with some things in my non-writing life, which I won’t get into now but may write about later. Also, I’ve been working on some new things, some of which are ready to go and some that are close, so I plan to come back strong in September.

However, it hasn’t been all bad this month. As I mentioned last time, my Veruca Salt-inspired poem “Volcano Girl” was published. Also, I did get two acceptances, one from Amaryllis Poetry, which will publish one of my poems in November. The other was from Hand Job Zine, which published two poems on their blog on Wednesday, “Tomatoes and Radio Wires” and “Invader.” (You can read them here.)

The first was inspired by a line from Neutral Milk Hotel’s “Two-Headed Boy Part II,” while the second was inspired by a Bernard Cohen painting.

Not only is Hand Job Zine a cool pub, but co-editor Jim Gibson has been very encouraging and supportive, so I’d like to once again thank him.

So enough about me: How is your August going? Please feel free to write about it in the comments section.

A Couple of Quick Things

I’ll have a new blog post on Tuesday (since Monday’s a holiday here in the States), but I wanted to mention a couple of things.

First, if you haven’t already heard (hey, I admit it, I’m a shameless self-promoter), I have a couple of poems in the new issue of WOLVES Magazine. My friend Kim Bailey Deal gave me the idea for one of them, “The Price Tower.”

Second, I recently resuscitated my Instagram account. Before I returned to writing, I used it mostly to post photos of my family. However, I’m finding it’s another good way of promoting my writing, so if you’re interested in following, my handle is @ciacono761.