Women on Poetry

Writing, Revising, Publishing and Teaching

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About the Book

In these 59 essays, published female poets share a wealth of practical advice and inspiration. Aimed at students and aspiring and experienced poets alike, the essays address such topics as the women’s collective writing experience, tips on teaching in numerous contexts, the publishing process, and essential wisdom to aid the poet in her chosen vocation.

About the Author(s)

Carol Smallwood, a recipient of multiple Pushcart nominations, is the author of journal articles as well as editor of numerous books including one in Poets & Writers Magazine List of Best Books for Writers. A Michigan resident, her experience includes school, public and special libraries.
Colleen S. Harris serves as a librarian on the faculty of California State University Channel Islands. A three-time Pushcart Prize nominee for her fiction and poetry, she is the author of three poetry collections and lives in Camarillo, California.
Cynthia Brackett-Vincent holds a BFA in Creative Writing from the University of Maine at Farmington. A Pushcart Prize nominee, she has published over 100 poems in journals such as Avocet, Ibbetson Street, Orange Room Review, Pirene’s Fountain and Yankee. Since 1995, she has been publisher/editor of the Aurorean poetry journal.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Carol Smallwood, Colleen S. Harris and Cynthia Brackett-Vincent
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 286
Bibliographic Info: references, index
Copyright Date: 2012
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6392-3
eISBN: 978-0-7864-8871-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Foreword: Molly Peacock      1
Introduction by Carol Smallwood, Colleen S. Harris and Cynthia Brackett-Vincent      3

Part I: Our Writing Life—A Collective Voice
1. The Resurgence of Women’s Poetry Since the 1970s: A Personal Perspective by Sharon Chmielarz      7
2. The Fine Art of Revision by Judith Skillman      10
3. How to Write in Multiple Genres Successfully by Jenny Sadre-Orafai      13
4. In Praise of the Chapbook: More than Mere Stepping-stones by Diana Woodcock      16
5. Making Time for Writing Poetry by Linda Rodriguez      22
6. Mirrors and Muses: Poetry with Friends by Kate Chadbourne      25
7. Women Writers on the Move: Building a Poetry of Everyday Practice by Purvi Shah      30
8. The Physics of Poetry by Sharon Chmielarz      33
9. Poetry at the Swimming Pool and Other Unconventional Places by Kristin Berkey-Abbott      36
10. Poets, Role Models, and Finding Our Voices by Ona Marae      41
11. Tapping Inspiration: Using Life Experiences in Your Poetry by Suzanna E. Henshon      44
12. To Go or Not to Go: The Benefits of Good Writing Conferences by Rosemary Royston      47
13. Women Writing for (a) Change: History, Philosophy, Programs by Sarah W. Bartlett      49
14. Writing Taboo: Speaking the Unspeakable by Tracy L. Strauss      54

Part II: We Who Pass It On—Tips on Teaching
15. Ellen Bass’s Top 14 Teaching Tips by Ellen Bass      63
16. A Few Tips on Effective Line Breaks by Sheila Bender      70
17. Fishing Lines, Dream Hieroglyphics: How to Begin a Poem by Doris J. Lynch      73
18. The Constituent Element Approach: Gender-Based Writing Prompts by Bonnie J. Robinson      79
19. Give ’Em the Beat: Tips on Teaching Meter by Marilyn L. Taylor      85
20. “Hot Stuff ”: Teaching the Women Poets of the 19th Century by Marilyn L. Taylor      89
21. It Sounds Good to My Ears: Making Poetry Come Alive in the Classroom by Margaret Simon      92
22. Just Like West Side Story: Teaching English Grammar with Poetry by Lynne Davis      98
23. Making Your Creative Writing Class International in Scope by Pramila Venkateswaran      103
24. So, You Want to Present at Conferences and Workshops by Aline Soules      108
25. Teaching with a Vision: Bringing Your Inner Poet into the Classroom by Suzanna E. Henshon      114

Part III: The Next Step—Publishing Our Poetry
26. Bardic Bytes: Six Simple Steps Toward Successful E-Promotion by Jennifer A. Hudson      119
27. Blogging for Poets by Joan Gelfand      124
28. Braced for the Large, Fat Envelopes: Preparing Poetry Submissions for a Women’s Market by Zoë Brigley Thompson      127
29. Build Your Platform by Joan Gelfand      133
30. Creating a Community Life with Poetry by Christine Swanberg      136
31. Creating and Distributing Video Poetry by Alexis Krasilovsky      139
32. Being a Poet: An Embarrassing Pursuit by Eleanor Lerman      144
33. From Excellent to Virtuoso: The Winning Contest Poem by Christine Swanberg      149
34. How—and Why—to Write Book Reviews by Julie R. Enszer      152
35. How to Promote Your Poetry in Your Free Time (While Working 40 Hours, Teaching at Night, and Restoring a Century-Old House) by Karen Coody Cooper      155
36. The Importance of Self-Promotion and Blogging by Diana M. Raab      159
37. Online Presence by Anna Leahy      162
38. The Publisher-Poet by Rebecca Tolley-Stokes      166
39. Publishing Regardless of How Impossible It Is by Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg      172
40. Revising Your Poetry Manuscript for Theme by Judith Skillman      177
41. Sending Your Words into the World Via an Echapbook by Arlene L. Mandell      180
42. Show Me the Money: A Very Brief Guide to Securing Funding for Your Writing by Christina Lovin      185
43. The Woman Poet as Entrepreneur by Kim Bridgford      191
44. Writing, Publishing—But What About Presenting? by Carolyn A. Dahl      196

Part IV: Just for Us—Essential Wisdom
45. Competition and Friendship: Can Both Exist in Writing Groups? by Sharon Chmielarz      203
46. Creating an Audience: Lessons from the Lesbian and Feminist Publishing Movement by Julie R. Enszer      205
47. Empowering Yourself as a Poet—A Checklist by Sheila Bender      208
48. The Excitement of Influence by Anna Leahy      211
49. Heartfelt Advice for Young Poets by Mary Langer Thompson      215
50. Journal Writing for Poets by Debbie McCulliss      219
51. Motherhood Poetry by Yelizaveta P. Renfro      225
52. Nourishing Your Muse by Diana M. Raab      230
53. Our Real Mother: Reflections on the Mythic in Poetry by Cassie Premo Steele      233
54. The Poet’s Notebook by Zara Raab      238
55. The Power of the Non-Poetic: Excavating Your Everyday, Discovering Poetry by Purvi Shah      243
56. Room 19 Revisited by Rosemary Royston      246
57. Safety Concerns for Lesbian and Bisexual Women Poets by Ona Marae      249
58. Secrets of a Successful Woman Writer by Arlene L. Mandell      252
59. Unique Issues Women Poets Must Overcome by Linda Rodriguez      255

About the Contributors      259
Index      269

Book Reviews & Awards

“the handbook every poet and teacher of poetry should carry…a strongly recommended pick for any poetry hopeful”—Midwest Book Review; “these essays offer a rich look into the world of women and poetry”—New Maine Times; “the book is a much-needed and long-over-due addition to any writer’s bookshelf”—The Writer Magazine; “Women on Poetry is a true compilation of writing wisdom from today’s influential women”—Leon Ogroske, editor of WRITERS’ Journal magazine; “This book is rich with advice and inspiration for writers of any gender, but how wonderful—and sadly still how rare—to hear it given in the voices of our mothers, daughters, and sisters.”—Rebecca Foust, author of God, Seed: Poetry & Art About the Natural World; “This excellent and most comprehensive collection of essays, by some of the finest minds in contemporary poetry, encompasses everything a student or teacher of poetry is looking for.”—Supriya Bhatnager, Director of Publications, Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP); “From writing prompts to po-biz pointers, revision strategies to teaching tips, this anthology is a treasure trove for both emerging and established poets. Candid, compassionate, savvy, and wise, the essays in Women on Poetry will help you tap into the creative community and claim your place in the rich heritage of women writers.”—Melissa Stein, author of Rough Honey (The American Poetry Review, 2010); “What an invaluable collection Carol Smallwood, Colleen Harris and Cynthia Brackett-Vincent have given us. The myriad of strong female voices will inspire writers not only for its content, but for its source, as well.”—Caitlin Griscom, Mid-American Review, Editor-at-Large; “This collection of articles is a modern day literary ‘tool belt’ for women poets at all stages of their writing career. Whether you are just starting out, refining your craft, or trying to find balance in your creative life, this collection will become a roadmap to literary success!”—Connie Post, Poet Laureate Emerita of Livermore, California (2005–2009) Winner of the 2009 Caesura Poetry Award; “Women on Poetry is full of insightful tips and nuggets of inspiration from some of our country’s best poets, making this anthology a must-read for women poets and prose writers alike. As a teacher and writer I found the advice and wisdom in these pages beyond valuable!”—Kate Hopper, author of Use Your Words: A Writing Guide for Mothers (Viva Editions, Spring 2012); “from the newly published to the invaluable classic, [this book is on] our list of essential books for creative writers”—Poets & Writers Magazine; “This is a kaleidoscope of concise and beautifully written essays about writing and teaching poetry. Every page offers insights—from sources of inspiration, the art of revision and the constraints of meter and rhyme to practical advice on getting published, promoting your work and starting a blog. Poets and teachers will love it.”—Janet Husband, author of Sequels; “Women on Poetry: Writing, Revising, Publishing and Teaching presents a cornucopia of advice and commentary on the poetic process for both the beginning and skilled poet. Melding creativity and practicality, the volume harmonizes the multiple voices of a broad spectrum of women poets.”—Dr. Robert P. Holley, Wayne State University, contributor, Writing and Publishing: The Librarian’s Handbook (ALA Editions), 2010; “This book is a gem! Each chapter is exquisite—lyric, expressive, confessional, yet chock full of tangible, sometimes step-by-steps tactics to improve your work. Despite the title, these tips defy boundaries—a must-own for anyone serious about the craft of poetry.”—Cathryn Cofell, Poet and Essayist, Kamikaze Commotion; “Whether you are a novice, an aspiring writer, a developing poet, or an already emerging and engaged craftsperson, and you lack and/or need a mentor-poet, Women on Poetry offers you a vast array of technical information and more writing-revision ideas and suggestions by practicing women artists that you might imagine.”—Fred Wolven, editor of Ann Arbor Review; “Whether they want to get inspired or get published, beginning and experienced poets alike will benefit from this anthology.”—Vera Gubnitskaia, Youth Services Manager, Orange County Library System, Orlando, Florida; “These lively essays from women poets for women poets offer a wealth of wisdom on topics ranging from the hard, lonely work of facing the desk to the sometimes frightening challenge of joining the poetry community by entering public spaces such as the classroom, workshop, conference, and internet. Whatever you need to move your work forward, you’ll find it here.”—Diane Lockward, Temptation by Water; “An eclectic collection of essays that will guide, nurture and mentor the poet within every woman writer. This book will awaken the inner muse and inspire words, rhythm and emotion from deep within, whether poetry is a new discovery or a long-practiced craft.”—Anne Witkavitch, editor of Press Pause Moments: Essays about Life Transitions by Women Writers; “Women on Poetry is a delicious array of topics guaranteed to stimulate your muse whether you are an emerging or established professional. The contributing authors offer invaluable insight into the gamut of writing issues.—Dr. Barbara Harbach, co-editor, Women in the Arts: Eccentric Essays in Music, Art, and Literature; “Mentors, muses, mothers, and masters of language—they are all gathered here with sage advice, hard won wisdom, and above all, writing that will sing to your heart and help you on your own path of writing, teaching and publishing.”—Dr. Cassie Premo Steele, Pushcart Prize nominated poet.