Let’s face it, it’s been a tough year for mother earth. The EPA shut down, the utter denial of human caused climate change, and the fight to protect water from big oil companies such as Dakota Access. Whether you believe that climate change is human caused or natural, whether you believe that an oil pipeline is just the thing America needs right now, or whether you believe the EPA should keep it’s Twitter quiet, can we not all agree that Mother Nature has done so much for us? Not just as a home, but as a place that helps to shape us as humans. There could come a day when the rivers we played in as children disappear or become unfamiliar, perhaps even uninhabitable to many species. Take Tennessee for example: According to Tennessee's website, they expect “rivers and streams, and some lakes, [to be] impacted by warmer temperatures associated with climate change.” Species that rely on this habitat may migrate somewhere else or simply die. Is it not time to remind ourselves why features such as rivers matter so much? Janice Keck Literary Award winner, Sandy Coomer, has released a new poetry collection, Rivers Within Us, that embraces and gives voice to Mother Nature through rivers, reminding us how to be human. Rivers, according to Sandy Coomer, connect us when “we’re desperate to see something kind / when we look into humanity’s eyes.” More importantly, her collection is a reminder of how “There are rivers within us -- /galloping herds of horses, hummingbirds that beat /their tiny hearts millions of times between the bee balm and the sage.” Sandy Coomer’s, Rivers Within Us could not be more timely with its publication amidst such turmoil and attacks against the environment. Maybe it's time we take a stand and remind ourselves what the river has to say once again. October marks the release date for Rivers Within Us from Unsolicited Press. You can purchase Coomer’s collection through their website, unsolicited press.com. It’s about time we started listening to what our home has been trying to tell us all along.
Cornelia Street Cafe Reading with Mark Belair, Ohan Hominis, Eleanor Levine, and Gemma Cooper-Novack!
At last! Alison Hicks' poetry collection You Who Took the Boat Out. We hit a snag yesterday in getting the media materials out, but we are happy to announce that they are out and we are proud of Alison's book.
It has been a beauty to work with. You can buy her book on Amazon (with 2-day shipping) or through our site.
Here's a bit about the collection:
A woman in middle-age takes a canoe out onto the water at night and must discern obstacles barely visible to keep her craft afloat. Her reward is a vision of stars transformed as they are reflected back through water. Her guide is the loon, whose red eye is capable of seeing underwater, and whose wail echoes and beckons. An adolescent whose mother has become ill must traverse the big country she finds inside herself to find a life worth living. A daughter mourns a father. In this collection, Alison Hicks looks beneath the surface of our emotional lives to murky shapes: the twists and turns we are unable to predict, the scrape of love and the experience of being lost, the whimsy of our fantasies, visitation by spirit guides of myth and legend, things we try to keep secret and yet seek to reveal, the hurt that has happened and the tasks to be undertaken.
We Might As Well Be Underwater is a collection of poetry split into two parts: Travelling and Not Travelling. Cooper-Novack lyrically discusses family, love, death, aging, and illness through travels. The collection travels through Cape Town, Sydney, Venice, Moscow, Chicago, Antarctica, London, Tokyo, Oregon, Florida, and many more places while also uniting the world through experiences.
Readers will enjoy the sense of space and how certain memories or ideas are sprung from a specific environment. Throughout her travels Cooper-Novack explores many spaces, cleverly exposing emotion in places revisited and sharing memories in new environments. They will both feel foreign and familiar as she leads us to both specific and general places (places that are described and could be in any community). Cooper-Novack lyrically composes stanzas that discuss the journey of life through aging and travels while also discovering home.
Last winter, Adela Najarro came to us with a brilliant proposal: let's make a chapbook that includes thoughtful critique and provoking questions, which can be easily used by teachers and readers.
We said absolutely!
In conjunction with the Puente Project and Adela Najarro's poetic finesse, we have been luck enough to make such a chapbook.
Najarro feverishly wrote the chapbook with all of the details for each poem and it is available for purchase via Amazon on January 27, 2017.
If you haven't heard of Adela Najarro's poetry, you should take a pause from whatever you're reading right now and scoop up her book Twice Told Over or Split Geography (or both!).
We Might As Well Be Underwater is a collection of poetry split into two parts: Travelling and Not Travelling.
Cooper-Novack lyrically discusses family, love, death, aging, and illness through travels. The collection travels through Cape Town, Sydney, Venice, Moscow, Chicago, Antarctica, London, Tokyo, Oregon, Florida, and many more places while also uniting the world through experiences. She lyrically composes stanzas that discuss the journey of life through aging and travels while also discovering home.
Readers will enjoy the sense of space and how specific memories or ideas are sprung from a specific environment. Throughout her travels Cooper-Novack explores many spaces, cleverly exposing emotion in places revisited and sharing memories in new environments. They will both feel foreign and familiar in both specific and general spaces.
Poet, playwright, and writer Gemma Cooper-Novack has had her poetry published in more than twenty journals. She also won the OUTSpoken Poetry Prize at Sundance Publishing in 2014. We Might As Well Be Underwater is her first book of poetry.
You can grab her book on our site or any major retailer.
At the end of December 2016, we will release Ohan Hominis's poetry collection Scattered Allegories. Ohan is a spoken word poet who actively performs. Here is one of his pieces.
At the end o f December 2016, we will release Ohan Hominis's poetry collection Scattered Allegories. Ohan is a spoken word poet who actively performs. Here is one of his pieces.
With Ohan Hominis's Scattered Allegories set to release on 12/28/16, we would like to share some of his many performances with you.
Ohan is a performance poet and participates in a lot of spoken word events. We are actively promoting his work because it deserves to be heard.
You can find out more about Ohan's book HERE.
We know that reading spoken word may be difficult at first, but no poet should be discounted because of this "mouth-to-page" barrier.
Hope you enjoy the performance and buy a copy of his limited run book.
Write a Novel This November! NaNoWriMo 2015: What Is It, and How Do I Do It?
You probably want to write a novel. Most people do. For some people, it’s something to check off the bucket list. For others, it’s a life-long dream. Some people aspire to be a published novelist, while others simply want to write a book, even if it’s just for themselves. Regardless of what your specific dream entails, writing a novel is an incredibly daunting task. Fortunately, Chris Baty founded NaNoWriMo in 1999, thereby turning this impossible fantasy into an achievable task.
NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, is an annual, month-long event that takes place every November, and it is the catalyst that generates full-length novels from both new and experienced authors each year. The goal is to write 50,000 words in November. You open your blank document and begin on November 1, and on the thirtieth by 11:59pm, you are a novelist. To participate, all you have to do is set up a free account at nanowrimo.org, and then announce your new novel! NaNo prep is already happening on the website: pep talks, forums, advice, etc. The NaNo community is preparing for the upcoming month-long writing extravaganza. To win NaNoWriMo, all you have to do is write 50,000 words. Everyone who does this is declared a winner, and you get a fancy virtual badge!
Think you can’t possibly write 50,000 words in thirty days? Don’t worry! Several tools exist to help you conquer this seemingly impossible-to-climb mountain. The first is the website itself. It has a handy tracker that tells you where your word count should be each day in order to stay on track. You enter your current word count, and you get to see the graph reflect the work you’ve done and the progress you’ve made, which is extremely encouraging and satisfying. There are forums on the website in which you can talk with other writers and inspire each other and cheer each other on. Need help figuring out the perfect surname for your protagonist? Feeling overwhelmed? Need help with some research? Running out of steam? The people on the forums are happy to help with all of this and more. It’s an extremely supportive and motivating community of writers, and it’s an invaluable source for your NaNo experience.
If 50,000 words still seems out of reach to you, keep in mind that it translates to only 1,667 words a day. That is totally manageable! You can do that, I promise! Here are some sources that can get you pumping out those words:
I have participated in NaNoWriMo three times, and I won each time. Here is the best piece of advice I can give: don’t think; just write. NaNoWriMo is not about producing a polished and perfect work of literature. It’s about writing the damn book. The goal is to get the first draft done, and the first draft is the hardest part. As Terry Pratchett said, “The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.” You don’t have a story until you write it. Now is your chance to write it. Do not waste time trying to make it as beautiful and perfect as possible. You should not do a single revision during this month. Do not go back to the words you’ve already written at all. Only move forward. If you do this, you’ll have a first draft of your book by the end of the month, and a first draft is a physical thing with which you can work. After November, you can begin your revisions. At this point, you’ll have achieved an amazing accomplishment, and you’ll be well on your way to completed manuscript.
Good luck, and happy writing!
I can understand why people are hesitant to write poems.
Poetry can be uncomfortable. You pry yourself open, you scoop out what you find, and you dump it onto a blank page. You do all of this just so you can read it; so you can potentially understand the stuff that’s been festering in the back of your mind—in the deepest reaches of your gut. Sometimes you even let other people read the stuff, which is just plain terrifying.
Poetry is discouraging. It’s disheartening when the right words won’t come. Especially when poets like Frost, Whitman, Collins, Pound, and Stevens (the list goes on) make the whole poetry thing seem so effortless, so natural. It makes your efforts feel useless, makes you feel inept, and makes the whole ordeal seem like nothing but a grand waste of time.
Most of all, poetry can be embarrassing. It’s personal. It’s a verbal manifestation of all the crude, coarse, natural, and organic roughness that we’re not sure we’re supposed to verbalize at all. And when your poem is finally done and you re-read it from start to finish, you can wind up gagging on your own sentimentality, nauseated by your own nostalgia, or disgusted by your self-indulgence. Really, how audacious to think that you or something that happened to you is worthy of becoming a poem?
The key is to let all of this go. Just write the thing.
A passage from David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest comes to mind. He describes being human as being “unavoidably sentimental and naïve and goo-prone and generally pathetic.” So the point here is to put all of that aside. Just try it. You’ll be surprised what you’ll find as you write your poem.
You’ll get to know yourself better. We think at an incredibly rapid rate. We process borderline unquantifiable amounts of information on a daily basis. We have a thought, we move on, we forget it. When you write a poem, you’re forced to slow way, way down. You’ll ask more questions about yourself, about your experience living in this world. You’ll ask things like, “is there a better word I can use here?” or “how can I really capture what I’m feeling.” If you’re writing of memories, you’ll have no choice but to wrack your brain, stroke your chin, and knit your brow to bring yourself back to the precise moment you’re writing about—be it two weeks ago or two decades. You’ll be shocked at the things you’ve had catalogued back there. And you’ll be amazed at how much more vivid they become when you try to express them.
You’ll properly deal with the things that consume you. Lawrence Durrell wrote of women,
“There are only three things to be done with a woman. You can love her, suffer for her, or turn her into literature.” I find the third option applies to all things. All suffering, all happiness, any emotion can be turned into literature. Of anguish, write until you’ve nothing left to say, and more often than not, you’ll have conquered your anguish. Of happiness, write until you’ve nothing left to say, and you’ll have preserved your happiness to look back on fondly when memory alone is no longer sufficient. Only poetry can remind you of the way a cool sea breeze blew through your hair on a September evening, how the sting of salt stung your eyes.
To end on a somewhat sentimentally and cheesy note (but remember, we’re all “unavoidably sentimental and naïve and goo-prone and generally pathetic”), poetry will create for you a portal to the places you’ve been. You’ll read your old poems and be reminded—in the most visceral ways—where you were, what you felt, and how far you’ve come since then.
While my last post was about claiming the title “writer,” I do have to admit that I've been suffering from a rather long stint of writer's block. In other words, I have not been writing very much at all. I write here and there. Jot things down and never return to give them my full attention. Obviously, this is a common thing that happens and everybody has his or her own remedy. There's whole books on it for god's sake. I'm not going to say a bunch of stuff that everyone already knows. I'm just going to talk about one thing that I realized the other night after attending a lovely poetry reading.
Attending readings and open mics is one of the most inspirational motivators to get me to put pen to paper and I would argue that this is true for many people.
I get so consumed with being alone when I write. I read and read and stare at blank pages in my journal, looking for something inside me to spill out. Instead, I just get frustrated and read more or watch Netflix. Sometimes I won't even let myself go out because I didn't do the writing I had set out to do that day.
When I stop punishing myself for not writing and I decide to go to a poetry reading or an open mic or a book launch, I always end up writing in my journal on the way home. Sometimes I even pull it out in the middle of the reading to jot down a stray thought. I think there are lots of reasons for this. Firstly, it's important to forget about your own writing for a while. Secondly, it's also important to be out in a community of writers who are sharing their work with other writers and readers. I think just the energy of this can help knock a few things loose in your brain – get ideas to settle down and want to come out for a change.
Most importantly, I think hearing writers read their own work aloud can be engaging and empowering beyond reading it for yourself. This is especially true with poetry. I find myself getting lost in just the voice – sometimes, even if I don't know exactly what it “means,” I can hear what the poet wants you to feel in their tone, rhythm, movement. It doesn't even have to be good. Focusing on these aspects of performance in the reading is something you don't get simply by reading someone else's work. I find myself focusing so much on craft when I read, that I almost forget the art. Hearing it come to life through the writer herself I can hear the art. I can see it. Which in turn always ends up inspiring me to create art where I had previously felt my passion for it draining.
So, for anyone feeling uninspired or in a rut of not writing I would encourage you to find a reading or open mic in your area. In listening to everyone share and speak their truth, you may just find yours.
How to Read Poetry Properly
Poetry is complicated. It’s often vague and flowery and most of it doesn't even rhyme. You would think you’d need a PhD in grammar to read some of the best poetry out there.
I remember the first poems I read were of the mass-produced sort in a Barnes and Noble edition of Emily Dickinson. I loved them. I’m sure it had something to do with the strange connection I felt with Dickinson. A bookworm like myself can easily relate to a recluse whose sole interests lay in family and literature.
I remember trying to write my own poetry. I was not very good at it. I wrote poems about the very serious unrequited crush I had in middle school. Then I would write one about a puppy in a window. I was all over the map. After that, I kind of lost interest in poetry until high school and college.
In college, I found slam poetry and a handful of poets with a cause. I also found open-mic nights. Now, even though fiction is still my first love, poetry is a close second and I am always searching for rising poets with unique voices and insights.
But I started out thinking poetry had to rhyme and it usually had to be about something extremely depressing like death and ravens. But poems can transport us, touch us and move us to action just as any other form of literature can. You just have to know what to look for.
Unsolicited Press published a collection of poems by Adela Najarro, entitled “Twice Told Over.” Najarro is an accomplished poet influenced by her Hispanic background and her family’s emigration from Nicaragua to San Francisco. “Twice Told Over” will be her first collection of poems.
To enjoy Najarro’s wonderful collection, here are some tips to get you to the next level of poetry analysis and subsequent enjoyment.
POSTER ART NIGHTS
There is a ring beyond the ring around the moon.
It has the clarity of glass and contains nothing.
Not everyone can see it. But later
There will be other reproductions,
Other nights when we will watch where cars
Like beetles in the dark
Follow their twitching cones of light
Across the ridges where the river bends
Around Elk Island Farm.
But the burning spirals of my digital self
Are never just the same old song,
Each track is shorter, but contains more information,
Until the final spiral disappears untraced,
Heard only by my friend, who claims to hear
The silent ‘h’ in ghost.
It makes an invisible sound, he says,
Not everyone can hear it.
As on a winter night years ago we stopped here,
Angrily pulling off the road,
While the queenly moon
Assumed her listening pose across the river.
And so our words, cruel and obvious then,
Are invisible now to me,
And of the many things we said that night,
Or meant to say,
I can remember almost nothing.
Yet I still can feel
The roughness of your coat across my hands,
Still see the water drops
That streaked the steaming windows,
Drops that glittered
In the same cold light that shone
Upon the frosted blades of grass outside the car,
Both then and now.
Where in the park we stood each day
By that rude philosopher with lantern thrusted high,
Who stared with his stone eyes at those who passed unheeding,
A companion girl bends now, head down, face turned away,
And gathering close her granite robes
As if his searching question had found her in a lie.
What is it that he always doesn’t say
In hermetic language none of us can hear?
Like traveling without a map, you say, of dreams
That nightly took you to a silent land
Whose hieroglyphs gave meaning, instant and complete,
Which waking, you could never seem to understand.
AND THINKING TO ESCAPE
Why do we say this can’t go on,
When vanishing each day at five
Through doors that open on dark streets
Impossibly we leave our spaces empty
And move cleanly westward toward the light.
Later, fumbling at the winding sheets
Sounds move past us in the night.
Though in the dark, we cannot be alone.
Something is always with us, invisible, like air
That pushes gently on an outspread sail.
It knows we must be going
And will take us anywhere,
Even to those places that ‘just might have been.’
Some friends have gone before us,
We see them moving there
Like shadows in a mirror where symmetry has failed.
Awkwardly they stumble, then stare and look surprised,
As if discovered reading dead men’s mail.
PROMENADE IN THE BACK YARD
The girl in brown stood by the door
Where the bats inquired in the dusky air,
While in the yard the unwashed Poltroon
Hacked and spit in the booted sand.
“Come out, come out, and play in the dark,”
He plunked out a tune on his comb.
The dogs howled, and near the porch
The cats made infrequent rushes.
But still she leaned against the door
And made no stir. Would
That the moon had called to her,
The moon, and the honeysuckle’s drift...
Only the essence in their names
Lives after them, vibrating
In the air of lonely rooms
Where once they lived.
They are reduced to signs,
Or random noises that go unexplained.
Someone sits reading in the chair.
The summer day
Draws its strength together for the afternoon.
In the hall a floorboard creaks.
The curtains flutter
But the leaves outside are still.
In this one moment, when the reader’s eyes
Lift uneasily from the page,
The mind clear but not focused anywhere,
All that is needed to bring them forth
In buzzing clarity
Is the simple murmuring of their names.
But we forget! Or quickly distracted,
We flip the page, annoyed,
And shifting in the chair
We fumble for our matches
And another cigarette.
Who will be the last to say their names?
The very last to say
“Why, this was Great Aunt Harriet’s vase,
Who lived here long ago.”
Then, smiling sadly,
“But of course, you don’t remember her.”
And what of Harriet, then?
Will she hover forever in these rooms
Like an echo,
Waiting for the one lifted sound
No traveler now on earth can make.
What happens when you pair a poet and a thriving singer-songwriter together? You get the marriage of intellect, artistry and a damn good book in your hands.
If & When We Wake is the product of winters and springs. It has been buried under snowpack, thawed, cultivated, scorched by the sun, and buried yet again. The result is a book of poetry and art that shines light on the desperation, helplessness, and loss that everyone feels, and tries to find the beauty of acceptance and growth. It examines the necessity of finding meaning in life after experiencing death.
This collection is an attempt to crack back through the ice and rip out a life that emits a light and a heat. It is the woods. It is the grass poking up between toes and tiny bits of soil underneath fingernails. It is alive, and it will sprout and grow.
If & When We Wake is the poetry and Francis Daulerio and the art of Scott Hutchison. It will be released this coming April through the Unsolicited Press.
We will begin the preorder on March 20, 2015, the first day of Spring. A limited release of SIGNED books will be available to the first 25 buyers. The first set of released books will feature a post script poem written by Daulerio too. We intend to run out of this book. After all Scott's band Frightened Rabbit has way too many followers to count.
Christmas was always filled with happy elves and a fat, jolly man spreading Christmas cheer across the globe. Presents came from the bloodied hands of naughty boys and girls. There wasn't a Naught or Nice list -- there was crime followed by swift punishment.
A Christmas Croc stalked little boys and girls who misbehaved. These little children saw the true nature of gift-making. The throes of hell -- only, not even demons would want to visit the North Pole.
John P. Bourgeois's The Christmas Croc is a haunting holiday tale fit for any reader -- just be warned, it isn't for children who can't handle monsters.
September is a big month for Unsolicited Press. Four books come out this month! Yes, I said it, four of them. And it wasn't easy. It was pretty stinking difficult. But, hey, we did it to ourselves. This September, we happily welcome Mick Bennett, William Alton, Nicholas Kriefall and John P. Bourgeois into our little family.
These men are brilliant. They have been darling to work with at all levels -- each with their own quirks. And the beauty is that they each put out a different genre. Bennett with a novel, Alton with a short story collection, Kriefall with poetry, and Bourgeois with an illustrated satire.
To learn more about these fellas, scroll down. Maybe you'll buy a copy.
Attic Pieces is a short volume of poetry by artist Nicholas Kriefall. We here at Unsolicited Press do not like to summarize poetry. Each poems has invaluable distinction.
Kriefall writes beyond the image and provokes the subconscious to wake up -- to join you on a level on complete presence.
But if we have to tell you something, then we'd say:
Attic Pieces is a debut collection of narrative poems covering a variety of themes set in rural towns as well as big cities, as seen through the eyes of the old and young alike. To a veteran astronaut unsure of home, to a soldier afraid to leave his, to a fishing town and farmer in their last days; each poem invites the reader into an intimate corner of everyday life.
Girls is a short story collection. William Alton embodies Raymond Carver and Bukowski all in one collection.
Meet Jimmy Hanlon. It’s summer, 1987. Jimmy’s a closeted bisexual in his late forties, nine months removed from a laryngectomy, and in this first part of a trilogy, he’s anxious to find a new identity in his Jersey Shore hometown. He hitches his hopes to a 33 year old lifeguard. The two cruise into summer with an assortment of boardwalk denizens and bar hounds. When they both fall for the same pretty nurse, the ride starts to get bumpy. In Jimmy’s story of redemption, dreams, familial and romantic love, misogamy and prejudice, accommodation and empathy, he discovers that the real victories occur in the small, courageous moments of our lives that overcome societal and personal prejudice.
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