Thursday, April 14, 2011

Enthralled by the Storm

It's Thor's Day in the blog, and the poem-a-day prompt is "thunder and lightning," so I'm sending you directly to the Sandy Longhorn poetry feature, just up at Escape Into Life.

There you will find a grouping of her saint poems and fairy tale poems, including "Fairy Tale for Girls Enthralled by the Storm."

They are paired with lyrical collage paintings by Dan-Ah Kim.

Kristin Berkey-Abbott suggested that I talk about how I do things as poetry editor for Escape Into Life, and it is about time I explained myself!  But first, let me cheer on Kristin and Dave Bonta, of Via Negativa, who are celebrating National Poetry Month in their blogs by reading and reviewing/reporting on the books they read!

As poetry editor for Escape Into Life, I work as a poetry scout. When founding editor Chris Al-Aswad asked me to do this, as his previous poetry editor, Mark Kerstetter (a fine poet and blogger himself!) was stepping back, I told him I would prefer not to read submissions as I had done enough of that already! (I had paid my dues as an editor for RHINO for ten years and, before that, as an associate editor for Poetry East.) Since I read a heck of a lot of poetry in books, journals, and online, anyway, I figured I would stumble upon poets I admired who would fit the readership and artistic sensibility of the Escape Into Life "adventure," as I call it.

This "poetry scout" strategy was fine with Chris and, in fact, matched what he and the art editors were already doing--looking at lots of stuff online for their Artist Watch features!

And, Chris confessed, most of the poetry submissions he was getting were "bad." Probably from novice poets, excited to be writing, but who hadn't "paid their dues" by reading enough poetry yet. Sigh....  It's a dilemma.

So I scout out and invite poetry submissions from poets I think would be good for Escape Into Life. Not everybody follows up, but most do, and I get to pick some wonderful poems.  After I choose the poems, I look through the Artist Watch selections, or search by category for Paintings, Drawings, Collage, Photography, to find the perfect match of poem and art. Sometimes, while arranging the feature at the website, I try the poems out with 2 or 3 artists to see what juxtapositions I like best--sometimes the best "match" is a strange contrast! I love doing this.

But I must share with you my sadness about Chris, who died young, and here is the odd coincidence connected to that, in an entry from last August. I cannot tell you how glad I am that his sister, father, and fellow editors are keeping the adventure going as his legacy.

It's a beautiful blue day here so far, and I hope to walk out in it on the local hiking trail later today.  The thunder and lightning are coming tomorrow.


April 14 poem-a-day prompt: thunder and lightning


Maureen said...

You do a marvelous job with selecting poets and matching them with art. It's clear how much you enjoy what you do.

Kathleen said...

Thanks, Maureen! And I loved matching art to your poems.

I wanted to clarify that I look at 10-20 artists for each poet, but then either find the perfect one, or actually view the feature with 2-3 different artists' images alternating with the poems. Going back and forth reading and looking usually works fine, but sometimes I have to test a feature first!

Also, once I scout out a poet, I ask to see 8-12 poems (instead of the usual 3-5), mostly new, unpublished poems, but also some previously published, or as previews for forthcoming books!

So I'm out there looking, dear poets! I hope you are out there reading!

Sandy Longhorn said...

Thanks so much, Kathleen, for the huge support you have shown for my work and for the great job you do for poetry.

Kathleen said...

Thank you, Sandy! And I did take that hike on the trail to see what was blooming and breathe the sweet air.

JulieK said...

I really, really love the red coat and the red leaves. I just went to order the print so I can have it for my very own. Thank you, Kathleen, for opening that door for me!

Kathleen said...


Collagemama said...

Enjoyed learning how you make the stew work. . .. And I love Red Riding Hood.

Laura said...

I guess now I have to write a poem about having discovered that our land line was knocked out by lightning right before we went on vacation to Mississippi for a week. Synchronicity makes me smile, even when I'm the only one who sees it.
These illustrations are gorgeous. such sweet whimsy. and thanks for turning me onto Sandy Longhorn's poetry.

Kristin Berkey-Abbott said...

Thanks for this process essay! Very cool.

Kathleen said...

In the next post, I will give the link for Dan-Ah Kim's Etsy site, where you can get a print of Red Riding Hood! Or whatever you want!

Kathleen said...

Yes, yes, Laura! That's the poem to write!

Nic Sebastian said...

Yay for you and Escape Into Life! It's such a delight every time. Best, N