Saturday, March 4, 2017

Update on WVR

Jane and I have communicated with some of you individually as we're working through the anthology, but we want to let you know we are both hard at work pulling the project together, particularly the discussion sections for book club readers.

We've scheduled some face-to-face time in the next week or so, and we will keep you posted.

Thanks for you patience!
Nancy

Monday, August 29, 2016

The Time Is Out of Joint (O Cursed Spite!): An Update

Friends and poets, Jane and I want to give you an update on the anthology. As you know, what we have in mind is more than a simple anthology or collection of poems. Now that we have made our selections, we are working to organize the poems thematically and to put together the tools that would make this book suitable, useful, and enjoyable for book clubs who normally discuss novels.

Most of you know, too, that since I've moved to Nashville, much of our work is being conducted by phone. (Picture both of us with phones tucked between shoulder and ear as we are clicking away on our respective keyboards.)

We have every intention of making this the best possible publication. We want to get it ready for print as soon as we can, but we aren't willing to sacrifice our goals for the quality of the project.

Meanwhile, we hope you will keep writing great poems. We'd love to see this one become so successful that a second volume would be necessary.

Warmest regards,
Nancy

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Well-Versed Poets: Information for You

Now that Jane has emailed the results of our selection process, we're receiving lots of email questions from our poets. We are going to try to answer those questions here, and we ask that if you have other questions, you attach them as comments to this blog post, so (1. we'll have one place to look for questions and (2. everyone can see the same answers.

First of all, the bio should be brief, no more than 70 words and in third person. You can include your prior publications or you can confess your idiosyncrasies!  It's your 70 words.

If your poem has been accepted, you are still free to submit it elsewhere. Please let us know if it is accepted elsewhere and we'll make a note in the book if possible.

We do not know yet when the book will be available, but we promise that you will know as soon as we do. In addition to working alone, we are spending lots of time on the phone and computer together to make sure we produce the best book we can. Fortunately, Jane and I like each other and enjoy this part of the process.

You should be able to post comments here and to see each other's comments too.  We will monitor daily so we won't leave your questions unanswered.

Now go write some more great poems!



Tuesday, May 31, 2016

On This Side of Submissions

Jane and I first want to thank those of you who submitted to our Well-Versed Reader project for your patience as we've worked our way through, making decisions about which poems work best with our vision for this anthology.

We aren't used to being on this side of the submissions process. We've both spent lots of time writing and submitting and waiting. And waiting. Since we both have a long history as English teachers, we recognized similarities between grading essays and sifting through poems. I know I often invested far more time grading papers that students would have believed. I wanted to be fair, and I didn't want to slip into "grade slide," gradually accepting weaker papers because I was worn out OR grading more harshly as I got tired.  Avoiding these extremes meant reading and re-reading. It meant I had to recognize when I was too tired to be fair (or fully conscious).

As we have worked through the poems, we recognize that some poets have submitted lovely poems that just don't match our concept of narrative poetry.  Throughout the reading, we've each tried to imagine that ideal reader: someone who loves to read fiction but who feels uncertain when facing poetry. We want to woo readers to this genre we love.

My move to Nashville complicated our process, but we've spent hours (literally, hours) on the phone discussing every poem, every poet. On behalf of both of us, Jane is sending the results of our painstaking process to all of you.

We look forward to putting together a collection of poems that will appeal to a broad readership and one in which our poets will be proud to be represented.

As we approach the next stage, editing, arranging, shaping this book into the final project we envision, we hope you're back at your desk or laptop or curled up in your comfy chair writing more good poems.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Thanks for the Narratives!

Jane's been trying to post since the deadline passed to no avail. Here's what she wanted to share:

Now that submissions have closed for The Well-Versed Reader, the fun for Nancy and me really begins.  We would like to thank all of the wonderful poets from twenty-five states and seven countries who sent their narratives for consideration.  We heard from one hundred and twelve poets, so we have now well over three hundred poems to winnow for the book.  That will take us a bit of time, so hang tight.  We will contact you before summer. 

As proof of the power of poets to move poets, I’d like to share that North Carolina had the largest number of submitters, perhaps because Nancy and I used the North Carolina Writers Network and NC Poetry Society to get the word out.  Thanks to those organizations and their generous writers for helping spread the word. 

The second largest number of submissions came from Texas. Why? Two words:  Laurie Kolp.  Our friend with whom we write at Poetic Asides, Robert Brewer’s poetry blog at Writers Digest, used her position as president of her state’s poetry society to encourage her local poets to submit. 

While we are about thanking people, Robert Brewer cannot be overlooked.  A number of poets who submitted reported seeing our Call for Submissions mentioned on Robert’s blog, Poetic Asides, the hometown of poets from all over the world.  Robert does more than most to cultivate a friendly place for poets to meet, read one another, and comment, a task over and above his actual job at WD. He offers weekly Wednesday prompts and both an April Poem-a-Day Challenge and a November Chapbook Challenge.  That’s right.  Those efforts are extras for him, as he labors on the yearly Poet’s Market.  Nancy and I are so very appreciative of the way he introduces poets to publishers and places where they can learn, grow, make friends from near and far, and find themselves and their readership. 

So now the work begins.  No need to nudge us for results.  We will not hold out on you fabulous poets.  As soon as the results are final, we will be emailing participants.  Thank you all for your support of what we believe to be a darned interesting project.  Write on, friends!



Monday, January 25, 2016

As we near the deadline for our Call for Submissions, Jane and I are so pleased with the submissions so far, and we're hoping for a deluge by the middle of February. Please continue to share this link with other poets whose work you enjoy.

Today I wanted to share Karen Call's "Do Not Take My Truck," another poem of a narrative nature that appeared on Jayne Jaudon Ferrer's "Your Daily Poem" that appears in my mailbox each morning. It fits the "day in the life of..." mode in the same fashion as Viorst's Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day" to which the poet alludes.

The poem written in direct address to young Conner gives a picture of a small boy's day in which the concept of sharing is pushed beyond its limit.

Questions: 
Is this poem written for children or for adults? 
How do the details of the poem send readers right back into a kindergarten or nursery school setting?
What are the clearest memories you have of your early childhood, particularly in a similar setting? 
Do you have similar childhood memories when others pushed your good nature to its limits?
Who were the bullies you remember? the pushovers? Which were you?
How does this short poem develop the characters?
What clues give insight to Conner's teachers or caregivers? 
Why do adults sometimes fail to recognize the different perspectives of children?

I'll confess that this poem brought me back to Mrs. Powell's kindergarten, which I attended in her basement (before most elementary schools had added kindergarten). I recall my difficulty, when finger-painting, in learning to let my green trees dry before I added my red apples. I remember being cast as Mary in the Christmas play on the day we started rehearsal, but then Mrs. Powell forgot whom she cast and another girl stole my part. (I know I didn't imagine this because I met the girl again when I transferred schools in tenth grade, and she confessed and apologized.) Most clearly, I remember Donnie M., a "bad boy" who was asked to leave our class for some reason. He lived in the neighborhood, and one day we heard a knock on the door. When the teacher opened the door, there stood Donnie. He quickly sang out, "You ain't nothin' but a hound dog!" and then ran away.

I love a poem or story that makes me recall one of my own. I'll bet you do too.

*Thanks to Jayne Jaudon Ferrer for permission to share the poem on her site.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Questions for a Book Club: This Is Not Your English Class.


In a literature class, you might be asked to discuss the use of alliteration, the figurative language, the theme, even the symbolism of "The Napkin" by Cathy Smith Bowers. In fact, when I was teaching high school and college literature classes, poems like this one often opened doors for students usually reluctant to analyze poetry. While English majors thrive on these kinds of discussions, the average member of a book group is looking for a different experience altogether.

By contrast, in a book club I'd expect to discuss these kinds of questions:

How does the setting become real to you in this poem? What details remind you where this incident is set?

Do you ever eavesdrop on others when you’re in restaurants, airports, hotel lobbies? In what ways do you speculate about the people around you?

How would you feel to realize they are also paying attention to you, making guesses about you and those with you?

What does the poet reveal about the characters in this poem? What details are withheld or left to the imagination?

How does the couple being deaf enliven the conflict and the reader’s interest in the poem?  Would the effect have been the same if the speaker had merely discovered the note from the table of people who had merely been whispering?

What images of beauty does the speaker point out?

In what way is this brief incident unusual? How is it ordinary?

How does the suggestion that these two are near the end of a journey affect the poem? Why does she reveal this little detail? Are there other similar small details that pique your interest?

When have you realized you misjudged a situation?

If the speaker had the chance to explain what she had been doing to the couple, what might she say? Does she owe her husband an apology?

What other stories or books does this poem bring to mind? Could this be a vignette in a larger work of fiction? What might have happened before? What will happen next?