A few weeks ago, I went through a five minute registration process on NPR's website just so I could downvote the comment pictured above (never accuse me of not backing up my political and aesthetic beliefs with real life actions…).
Good Lawyer's comments are not unusual or even particularly offensive. I hear some version of these sentiments every damn time a "friend" makes the mistake of mentioning in mixed company that I craft the occasional poem.
I guess I see calls for "making sense to an average person" as something of a feminist issue. What I mean is, "average person" is usually (maybe even always?) a(n invisible) code for male (white, heterosexual, middle class, able-bodied, etc.). Women aren't average people. So, poems written by women are, perhaps inevitably, unaverage.
I tire of folks holding up "easy to understand" as a virtue, as the virtue, of printed words. Granted, instructions for operating a forklift or at-home bikini wax should be easy to understand. But poetry i...
Because of the end. Because they almost made it. Because they maybe could’ve made it. Because they never could’ve made it. Because the world we live in wouldn’t have let them. And because they knew it.
When I joined the staff of Switchback Books in 2009, I was excited to be a part of something that combined a strong mission in which I believe with an artform that I’ve loved since childhood. But when I started reading for the Gatewood Prize that first time, I began to doubt the wisdom of our (amazing and talented) Founding Editors, Hanna Andrews, Becca Klaver, and Brandi Homan.
I thought surely there must be a better way.
Because they read EVERYTHING. And not only did they read everything, but they also refused to have the other staff and readers simply vote on submissions to indicate their favorites. Nope. They discussed EVERYTHING.
At the time, I was the managing editor and I thought surely I must be doing something wrong if it was going to take THIS LONG and THIS MUCH ENERGY to read for the Gatewood Prize. Wasn’t it my job to make sure projects got done on schedule? How would we ever get a book made?
But the books get made beautifully, thanks to a staff and editors...
"I’ve been thinking about your title poem, 'Manifest,' and how this word functions conceptually in this collection. When something manifests, it is proven, it makes itself clear, it is evident. Yet, psychologically speaking, it’s kind of the tip of the iceberg-that little bit of the unconscious mind that lets itself poke through. It fights against our need to repress, to keep in darkness-manifest versus latent content of the dreams that seem to elude you. In this poem, 'Looking is a moss that needs space.' In my own work, I’m preoccupied with the gaze, the looked-atness of things, what is imposed and what we impose as the looker and the lookee. Subject-object relationships. I’m in love with this quote. I hope to use it as an epigraph some day. There is so much said and unsaid in this collection. So much burrowed. So much ghosted."
If you identify as a woman and have a manuscript for your first or second book of poetry, be sure and send it our way before June 1. Our editors read every manuscript that's submitted for the Gatewood Prize, and we would love to read yours. So go ahead and send it in. This year's judge is the always amazing Eileen Myles.
Don't get me wrong, reader, I genuinely felt excited when asked to contribute to the Switchback Blog v2.0 (is that what we're calling it? I suppose I am), but in this moment of writing, approximately six hours before I've promised our editor that I would have it sent over, I feel hesitant—well, terrified—yet to decide what it is that I'd like to say. It is my instinct to just immediately apologize about the tangles of thought and text to follow, the lack of focus and resolution with which I will write about the situations of small press publishing and of women, the axis at which these subjects meet. But, then, what am I apologizing for? This is the internet. We've all seen the bullshit that goes on here. (Can I say bullshit?) I will, as a matter of course, apologize for the egregious use of commas and run-on sentences…but I won't really mean it.
In the past few days when considering my potential subject matter, I knew that I could, and regardless, likely would, default to gushing abo...
1. What do you do for Switchback?
I'm the Development Coordinator, which means I research grants and other funding opportunities and apply for them. The best part of this has been hearing all the different project ideas that the Switchback editors and staff have—the future looks very exciting from here.
2. What do you feel like you get out of working for Switchback?
I strongly believe in Switchback's mission and am happy I get to be one of the people working to support it. Also, it's great to be part of such a vibrant and hardworking team!
3. Where are you from, and how important is where you’re from to you?
I'm from suburban Chicago, which is not very exciting. I would say the specific place isn't as important as the people—I'm very close to my family members and wouldn't want to be too far away from them.
4. What are five of your favorite non-poetry-related things?
chocolate, fiction, making lists, learning about cool stuff, British TV crime dramas