Saturday, August 17, 2019

Poetry Reading! August 18, 2019 5-7 PM


We are heating the desert with the release of the 32nd issue of Cholla Needles!



On August 18, from 5-7 PM at Space Cowboy Books, YOU will be our featured reader! Come help us celebrate the arrival of issue 32!!! Any member of the community who wishes to be part of this celebration is encouraged to bring a poem or two to share! We all look forward to hearing your work! See you at Space Cowboy Books.

Brian Beatty On Vasko Popa

Borrowed Trouble: Micro Tribute to Vasko Popa (1922-1991)

I wouldn’t write at all if it weren’t for myriad writers before me whose works showed me what was possible. The poems of this series are small offerings of respect, of thanks, to those muses. – Brian Beatty



Animal shadows 
stalked me across 
a bustling downtown 

and in return 

the bright, shining noise 
of that same city haunted 
my animal dreams.

– Brian Beatty

Check it out!



Learn more about Vasko Popa:





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click here for more on this book
click for more on this book
NEW! Read the entire series of Borrowed Trouble by Brian Beatty anywhere you go by buying the collection of all sixty poems today! You've enjoyed these poetic tributes on-line, now enjoy them everywhere!


Brian's recent collections of poetry are Dust and Stars: Miniatures and Brazil, Indiana


Don't miss Brian's columns on great poets: insert your email address in the "Follow By Email" box to the right of this article and you'll be notified every time a new article appears.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Tobi Alfier - Back-to-School Challenge


No matter how long you’ve been writing, how many classes you’ve taken, workshops you’ve attended, books you’ve read… every day you learn something new. It may be big. It may be small, but it all goes toward making you a stronger writer. Even hearing a new phrase in line at the grocery store that would be perfect for what you’re working on—it all goes toward making your writing a better version of you.

This is my back-to-school challenge for you:

  1. Assuming you have kept most everything you’ve ever written, go back and get the earliest four pieces of writing you have. If it was in the typewriter days, like mine was, grab it out of the filing cabinet.  Ohhhh, those pages smell so good! But I digress.

get yours now - $3.75
  1. Read it. Don’t cringe. It doesn’t matter if it’s part of a novel, short fiction, memoir, poem, or journal entry. I bet you a Cholla Needles lined blank notebook that what you’ve learned can make it better.

  1. Pick one and put it on your computer. Even if you like to write and edit by hand, should you decide to submit this somewhere, it has to be on the computer anyway. So reminisce about your old Commodore 64 for a minute and start typing.

  1. Now, look at it. You know you can make it better. All the things I’ve been saying over the last year and a half...check the line breaks, check your tenses, check your punctuation, fix your em dashes. Even check that the spacing after your periods is consistent. Your voice has probably stayed close to the same, so you have a great place to start.  Edit away!

  1. Include it as part of your next submission. It may be a little different, but just as good as what you’re submitting now. I recently had a 35-year-old poem published. It was revised, it was written before there were cell phones or computers, and it was accepted by a good print journal.

So whether you’re a parent, grandparent, professor, student, crossing guard or school bus driver, we’re coming up on a busy week. You probably have to clean out your cabinets anyway, look for your old writing.

And if you just want to enjoy the end of summer, that’s fair too.

I’m writing a short post this week to give you the gift of time, but don’t forget the challenge! xo

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Tobi Alfier's most recent collection of poetry is Slices Of Alice. She is also co-editor with Jeff Alfier of the San Pedro River Review. Don't miss Tobi's columns on the craft of poetry: insert your email address in the "Follow By Email" box to the right of this article and you'll be notified every time a new article appears.


Friday, August 9, 2019

Brian Beatty On Jim Carroll

Borrowed Trouble: Micro Tribute to Jim Carroll (1949-2009)

I wouldn’t write at all if it weren’t for myriad writers before me whose works showed me what was possible. The poems of this series are small offerings of respect, of thanks, to those muses. – Brian Beatty

Jim Carroll

Flattened basketballs 
always reminded me
of Halloween pumpkins
smashed in the street.

Gangs of so-called toughs 
hide in the neighborhood shadows,
collective breath held in prayer.

Mothers at home have no idea
where their little boys have gone.

Vultures and priests claim the dead.  

– Brian Beatty


Click to see more


Learn more about Jim Carroll:








- - - -


click here for more on this book
click for more on this book
NEW! Read the entire series of Borrowed Trouble by Brian Beatty anywhere you go by buying the collection of all sixty poems today! You've enjoyed these poetic tributes on-line, now enjoy them everywhere!


Brian's recent collections of poetry are Dust and Stars: Miniatures and Brazil, Indiana


Don't miss Brian's columns on great poets: insert your email address in the "Follow By Email" box to the right of this article and you'll be notified every time a new article appears.

Tobi Alfier - Writing with a Goal in Mind


Most of the time I will be the first person to say you should not write for an audience, you should write for yourself. I really believe that. But two things happened this week to remind me that sometimes I don’t do that, and sometimes you won’t want to do that either.

A friend of mine who you have met in a prior blog post, had a poem accepted by The Rye Whiskey Review. This is a woman who now lives in Indiana. She had given up all hope that she would ever be published in North Carolina, and did not know that Rye Whiskey was based there. When I told her, her response was “No. Wait! Are you telling me I've just been published by a North Carolina literary journal????? OMG. Holy cow! Woot! Happy dance all over the place. Accepted for the first time by my home state!!!! OMG.”
Another friend of mine who you have also met in a prior blog post told me yesterday “For some reason, I really want to get published in Vermont” (because she went there one time and really loved it). She went on to say that she’d really like to get published in a state university literary review, and “I think it would be so funny to get in to North Dakota”.
Think of these end results as goals, more than audiences.
I know there are some journals who will never publish me. I don’t write in a way that matches their aesthetics. I try every couple of years, and am pleased to report they remain consistent, and so do I.
While my two friends think about where they’d like to be published, I think about it a different way. I want to be published with Jeff. I love when we are published together. It may sound silly, but it makes me happy to see both our names on a back cover or Table of Contents.
Jeff and I don’t write the same, and we don’t have the same poem triggers, so the first thing I have to do, and the first thing we all should do, is READ THE GUIDELINES!
Let’s talk about Sport Literate. I wrote about them in my post of March 19th but from a different angle. Jeff has been published by them multiple times. I couldn’t write a sports poem if you gave me a thousand dollars! Okay, I could write a gymnastics poem, but I don’t think “beam and bars” is very poetic, nor do I think falling asleep at a World Series game has much to say for it.
Thank goodness I looked at “about us” on the Sport Literate website. It says “Sprung from the 12th floor of Columbia College Chicago in 1995, Sport Literate, is a literary journal focusing on “honest reflections on life’s leisurely diversions.” Praying for a broad definition of “life’s leisurely diversions”, I jumped in.


Katie Caldwell Meets a Plumber at the Muscle Car Dance

Squat-bodied Chevys plant themselves
like a garden of boiling colors –
the red not seen in 50 years
and a green so old it makes nostalgia
feel young.

She follows the hood ornaments to the dance floor,
a blues band tuning up, that particular
beat that says I’ll sing about anything and you’ll
crave it.  All the longing you’ll ever need.

You can awkwardly dance to it,
or look around.  And look around she does.
He’s got 10 years on her if a day,
graceful in that dirty torn t-shirt kind of way
that says he’s a working man,
taking a break from the present to drift back
to his past,

when Saturday nights meant shine her up,
race her reckless, then get the girl.
And she wants to be that girl.  Cherry-red
lips and a yellow dress match anywhere
she ends up.

Life was more unhardened then, the danger
more in their minds, adrenaline
churning and a pack of smokes hiding
in the glove box for later.

She can still do that high-school sidle,
she is by his side in a heartbeat.
The blues makes him talkative; the ex
and his girls live three states away, he’s
been here all his life, has a good business
left from his father, and a dog.

She takes his hand, dances gracefully among
the clowning tourists, visitors to this world
in plaid shorts and wrist bands. And in that dance
she becomes everything to him.  Don’t matter
nothin’ ‘bout tomorrow.  He knows she’ll be there,
sure as the dice hanging from the rear-view.
  
(previously published in Sport Literate)

Holy cow, it’s not just about baseball! Muscle cars are a leisurely diversion. Would I like to be in Sport Lit again? Heck yes, but I have to write those poems first, and I haven’t.

When you take a look at some of the odd themes out there, I’d be scared if you had poems on theme without tweaking something you already have, or writing something new. Usually that’s called “editing”. In my opinion, poems are fluid until they’re published. If you have to bend something a tiny bit to get that square peg into a round hole while keeping your voice and your heart, and that allows you to be published in your home state, or published with your husband, how cool is that?

BUT… There are some journals I love, that Jeff doesn’t submit to, and vice versa. There are some that accept me and not him, and more that accept him and not me. It doesn’t matter, it’s not a contest.

Continue to write your own beautiful way, and don’t lower your standards for anything.  Read the guidelines. Submit where appropriate for you. And if you have a goal, whatever that may be, don’t be blind to other opportunities, and the very best of luck to you.

And please send a comment below so we can all do the happy dance with you!!!



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Tobi Alfier's most recent collection of poetry is Slices Of Alice. She is also co-editor with Jeff Alfier of the San Pedro River Review. Don't miss Tobi's columns on the craft of poetry: insert your email address in the "Follow By Email" box to the right of this article and you'll be notified every time a new article appears.


Sunday, August 4, 2019

August Issue Released! Cholla Needles 32 =:-)


The beautiful cover and inner photography is by Sarah Soos

The wonderful writing between the covers of Issue 32 is written by:

MaĆ­a
Dave Maresh
Francene Kaplan
Casey Killingsworth
Katia Aoun Hage
Mitchell K. Grabois
Romaine Washington
David Chorlton
Maria A. Arana
Sam Schraeger
Laurie Byro



We encourage our neighbors to buy Cholla Needles books at 
Rainbow Stew, Space Cowboy, JT Coffee, and Raven's Books. 
Support our local distributors!

Brian Beatty On Sylvia Plath

Borrowed Trouble: Micro Tribute to Sylvia Plath (1932-1963)

I wouldn’t write at all if it weren’t for myriad writers before me whose works showed me what was possible. The poems of this series are small offerings of respect, of thanks, to those muses. – Brian Beatty



Every poem a gift 
wisely wrapped 
by a department 
store professional —

smartly creased corners 
and hand-curled bows
doing nothing to disguise 
the rotten meat in every box.

– Brian Beatty


Click to see more

Learn more about Sylvia Plath:









- - - -


click here for more on this book
click for more on this book
NEW! Read the entire series of Borrowed Trouble by Brian Beatty anywhere you go by buying the collection of all sixty poems today! You've enjoyed these poetic tributes on-line, now enjoy them everywhere!


Brian's recent collections of poetry are Dust and Stars: Miniatures and Brazil, Indiana


Don't miss Brian's columns on great poets: insert your email address in the "Follow By Email" box to the right of this article and you'll be notified every time a new article appears.

Tobi Alfier - Back Burner Weeks


How did everyone do last week? You can tell by this post being late…I had a “Back Burner Week”. Do I write and submit work every day? I did write two poems and make two submissions, and I wish I could do it every day, but sometimes other things just come first.  Relatives visiting, birthdays, doctor appointments, reading submissions for SPRR, putting the journal in order…and sheepishly, the finale of The Bachelorette for example.  

I can’t help it. The finale was in Crete, an island I dearly love, and haven’t been to since “Dance Camp” in 1995. I had to watch. That took a big four-hour chunk out of my week, but I admit it, it was worth it. Oh my goodness, the smell of sage, crashing a wedding with lots of ouzo, many gentlemen shooting pistols out the windows, bowls of “fertility” Jordan almonds on the tables… It brought back many memories, but I can’t even say I was watching for “poem triggers” (pun intended). I’ve already written those poems more than once.

He’ll Tell You Once He Knows

He comes in from watching the chiminea,
smells like woodsmoke and olive branches.

Your wandering man—adventure in his mustache
when he kisses you. Could be Puglia, could be Crete,

if next time you smell sage, you’ll know he’s decided.
The orange tree in the background could point him

toward Spain. He’ll tell you once he knows.
There will be laughter, desiccated barns reduced to earth,

trains and sky, that much you know without doubt.
A shy waitress who remembers he loves reds,

a dried horse hoof in a rutted road—the picture
will be worth five thousand miles. For the both of you—

every night you will hear his adventures
and share yours back. While the music in the wind

is your guide for tomorrow. The dawn,
a coffee kiss, you watch as he strides away,

then follow your own song until reunited,

(previously published in Peacock Journal)


Sometimes other commitments, commissions, out-of-town reunions, appointments, etc., come first. And that’s okay.

I only know how to write, edit, publish, and watch TV. Some of you have multiple areas of expertise, which you may love just as much as writing (and maybe which pay better). I have several Facebook friends who are beautiful artists as well as poets. My husband is a gorgeous photographer. Poetry may be on the back burner, but creativity isn’t.  I may get an honorarium for $50. You may sell a gorgeous piece of art for $800. Not that this is a contest, but you win. More fancy coffee drinks for you!

I understand that, but sometimes I forget.  So, if I’m all excited because the new Duotrope is out, and after I finish this post I’m doing at least five submissions…if I’ve found a journal where the publisher answers in one day, if it seems that I’m pushing you in a way that does not work for you…

Please!!!

Be an artist, bake wedding cakes, lampwork glass beads and make chokers on black leather cords, hike to wild and wonderful places to take photographs, go to work (and be sure you’re contributing to your 401(k) plan)…If those, or anything else, cause your poetry/writing to go on the “back burner”, it will seem like I’m kicking you in the butt to do more, and it will always seem that way. Just remember—be better than I was watching that finale. Look around for poem triggers, eavesdrop if you can do it without getting caught, notice the name of your waitress and whether her lipstick matches her nails, whether she calls you “honey” or scowls at you through your whole lunch, listen to what’s on the radio. You know what to do. And when it’s time, you can pull those little slips of memories out of your head, your wallet or purse, and write what’s been running around, just waiting to come out.

Have the best week everyone. Wear sunblock and be creative. I’ll be here writing poems and doing submissions. xo

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Tobi Alfier's most recent collection of poetry is Slices Of Alice. She is also co-editor with Jeff Alfier of the San Pedro River Review. Don't miss Tobi's columns on the craft of poetry: insert your email address in the "Follow By Email" box to the right of this article and you'll be notified every time a new article appears.


Friday, July 26, 2019

Brian Beatty On Kenneth Patchen

Borrowed Trouble: Micro Tribute to Kenneth Patchen (1911-1972)

I wouldn’t write at all if it weren’t for myriad writers before me whose works showed me what was possible. The poems of this series are small offerings of respect, of thanks, to those muses. – Brian Beatty

Kenneth Patchen

Your declared war
on war all but killed you,
I’m afraid.

Your oft professed love
of love didn’t save you either.
Or so I fear. 

California, wherever it is, 
always sounds far away. 

I hear some people find it 
peaceful there.

You don’t say?

You don’t say.

– Brian Beatty


Click here for more. . .



Learn more about Kenneth Patchen:







- - - -


click here for more on this book
click for more on this book
NEW! Read the entire series of Borrowed Trouble by Brian Beatty anywhere you go by buying the collection of all sixty poems today! You've enjoyed these poetic tributes on-line, now enjoy them everywhere!


Brian's recent collections of poetry are Dust and Stars: Miniatures and Brazil, Indiana


Don't miss Brian's columns on great poets: insert your email address in the "Follow By Email" box to the right of this article and you'll be notified every time a new article appears.

Tobi Alfier - Journals really do “Build Themselves”


Have you ever gotten a rejection, and you look at what you submitted and it was great? It happens to me all the time, and it makes me so frustrated. Five poems that I’m really proud of with a great big “we’re gonna pass this time, but please consider us again”? Why would I consider you again if you hate my poems?

After publishing a journal for eleven years, I can tell you that you may have sent in a terrific submission, that meets all the guidelines and aesthetics for the journal, but  your wonderful poems do not work with, or was too much like the work that’s already been accepted—so there’s no place for you.

It’s the oddest thing. And it happens all the time.

SPRR website
In January of 2009 we published the first issue of San Pedro River Review (SPRR). We accepted and rejected work daily as we read submissions. At the end of the one-month window, we found that almost the whole journal was about birds and death.

That taught us not to accept or decline work as we received it, rather wait a week or so and start accepting on a rolling basis. We had, and still have, a short waiting period for submitters because our window is only a month long. We don’t “hold work hostage” for very long. Even still, issue after issue we find a general “theme” to the work we receive, and one or two A+ poems that just don’t fit easily.

We used to ask if we could hold those A+ poems until the next issue, but now that we have a theme every other issue, we can’t do that (and that’s why sometimes a journal will decline a great submission. It’s to release your work back to you so it can be submitted elsewhere. For those of you who are insecure, like I am, this truly is not about the quality of your work).

I have talked to other publishers and the same is true for them. If they get 100 great poems about horses, they may not feel like they can take your one poem about seeing the Statue of David at the Accademia. It’s not your fault, they just don’t have the time to find the perfect place for it. This is assuming your work meets the aesthetics and standards of the journal. For this post, we’re going to assume it does.

Click here to enlarge
At SPRR, we spend a lot of time making sure we put all poems into a logical place so that we have an arc that is pleasing to our contributors, that will make them proud to see their poems and make readers want to read more, and more, and more. Sometimes it’s hard but almost every issue we get at least one thank you for the poem order.

NOTE: Cholla Needles, my wonderful host, publishes their journal in a very different way. For those of you who don’t know, first of all please read the Cholla Needles website. Every month, six pages of creative work are published by ten writers. Each writer has a “mini-chapbook” printed. Each group of six pages is titled. As an editor, Rich is looking for a selection of material that both speaks from the depths of an author and communicates to an audience.

Some things some Journals do that I do not personally appreciate:

  1. Reject a great submission and not explain why. They don’t have time for specifics. “We love your poetry but it didn’t fit” would be fine

  1. Reject you and send you a card for how to get a subscription. That’s kind of ballsy, in my opinion

    click to enlarge
    (injection from Rich: When I first started publishing in 1973, every author read the magazine before submitting to it. It wasn’t a “requirement”. We were taught to do that by the writing books and magazines of the time. It simply made sense. Why send work to a magazine full of work you don’t appreciate? Plus, it was an investment of time and cash to send work in and send a SASE in return. Writers looked for magazines as a home & family to grow with. That spirit of family (find old issues of Wormwood, Seven Stars, Vagabond, etc) has been lost in many magazines, but I sense authors who are serious still crave that. I am obviously old-fashioned, but it only makes sense to support the magazines that support you. And yes, I realize the psyche of writers has changed a lot, and they are taught differently by the new intelligencia. Two cents turned into a sermon, sorry. Back to Tobi:)

  1. Hold your work for a year and then reject it. In all fairness, sometimes a university publication has classes for making the journals, and they take a year

  1. Send a rejection on day six of a six-month window and say it’s because the work doesn’t fit. It's day six!!! How do they even know? They need to revise their rejection letters or have more than one (in my opinion)

  1. Most submissions are done online now, but some are still by mail. I did not appreciate waiting in line at the Post Office to pay 75 cents postage due because of extra ads shoved in, only to find it was a rejection

  1. One time I did a submission, then left to drive to my parent’s house. I got a rejection while I was still on the freeway. Was it even read? Who knows?

This issue, SPRR does have a lot of horse, death, and arroyo poems. We don’t have a Statue of David at the Accademia (that’s my poem below), but where the heck are we going to place the A+ poem about caviar? And some other poems that deserve to be published? You’ll just have to see.  At SPRR, we remain committed not to publish ourselves, and to partner with poets who trust us to make a journal they can be proud of. We want that too!! And I’m honored to write this post each week, and submit work to Rich—who has the same feelings and respect for writers that we do.

God Speed

Turn around love,
and with my eyes
let me silence
the pen and ink
sketch of you.
It is time.

The hospital floor is cold
and we are so tired.
you unbraid the blanket
from around your throat
and encase us both,

a living chuppah
as we watch your
elegant breaths,
as you begin
to make things right,
love and mercy.

We talk about small
things, in words
almost weightless,
about the weather,
and how the Harvest
album used to make
us want to cry.

How rounding the corner
at the Accademia
made us feel like
we were touching
God, and we were,

how the legs carved
by Michelangelo were
your legs, your thighs,
and how he must have
known your ancestors.

Yes love, it is time.
Turn around.
Hold my hand
so you will always
remember me, lips
kissing you into my body,
I will never forget you.

Previously published in Bellowing Ark



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Tobi Alfier's most recent collection of poetry is Slices Of Alice. She is also co-editor with Jeff Alfier of the San Pedro River Review. Don't miss Tobi's columns on the craft of poetry: insert your email address in the "Follow By Email" box to the right of this article and you'll be notified every time a new article appears.