Tuesday, October 30, 2007

FictionHQ.com -- Fiction Headquarters

Woo! I picked up FictionHQ.com at a GoDaddy Fire Sale, thinking that I might develop it at some point, but I then discovered that it had already been an active user-generated content fan fiction website, and my parking stats bear this out.

I wonder why the original owner let the site drop? It IS a natural for such a site.

If any original Fiction HQ members of this now-defunct site are out there and would be interested in seeing this website rise from the ashes like the Phoenix, let me know through the comment feature of Post Foetry.

Or email me.

Such a site would have to be user-generated because I'm already stretched thin in this blogging and domaining enterprise.

I just have to learn how to set up a user-generated site (which is why you'll see a similar post on my domaining blog).



Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Not-So-Random Quote: Edmund Burke

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men [and women] to do nothing.”

--Edmund Burke

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Call for a Literary Agent

One would think that Post Foetry would be an inappropriate venue to announce my intention to seek a literary agent for a memoir that I have just completed, but then I have never approached my life in an orthodox manner.

I'm not about to start now.

It seems that I have always hung on the periphery of things, and I'm sure that my refusal to play nice with those in power has held me back in significant ways. But if I see something that bothers me, I tend to speak out, sometimes in a snarky way, but mostly in a pointed manner.

Not a good way to make connections; however, I don't want to go through life with that sick feeling in my gut that I have cultivated a friendship based solely on my wanting "something" from that person. When I offer a compliment to someone and reach out in friendship, it's genuine--otherwise, I simply don't do it.

What I'm seeking now is a professional relationship which could be mutually beneficial, not a best friend.

I have discovered that writers tend to be some of the most conservative people in the world; sure, their political leanings may point left, but when it comes to making a real difference in the world, they, in the face of controversy, tend to cower in the corner and then join other writers in lockstep, sucking up to whoever is the flavor of the moment. Also, writers in position of power tend to want the status quo to remain as it is. And why not? Why would anyone want to lose his/her power base?

The two major magazines devoted to writing and writing programs mostly turn a blind eye to contest corruption at the highest echelons. The contest model is supposed to be in place for discovering new writers, but, in my opinion, as long as the taint of cheating hangs over the biz, then one would be wise to avoid all contests that don't offer judging transparency, which, unfortunately, seems sadly lacking in most contests.

I have never been against literary contests per se; on the surface, the contest model sounds like a good idea: writers pay a small reading fee, the magazine raises some money for cost containment, and new writers have a chance to get their work read by esteemed judges, who are themselves noted writers. Unfortunately, most contest manuscripts are screened by interns and even undergraduate students, and "Famous Writer" reads only a fraction of the submissions, some of them "cherry picked" by friends and teachers.

I would not want my memoir to be screened by an undergraduate who has just submitted a story to his creative writing instructor in which the protagonist is a piece of snot in search of the Holy Grail (yes, I have read and graded such wondrous prose). Undergraduate writers are still learning craft, and, quite frankly, are not yet good judges of literature, so I'll pass on that venue, thank you.

I believe I have written a good book (a memoir), and would love to have the opportunity to prove it to a literary agent and a publisher, but I may experience an uphill battle because of my refusal to play the intricate rules of sucking up to people who would not otherwise be my friends.

Oh, well.

I won't say too much here, but I have launched a site, which is basically an open call for a literary agent. The site includes an open letter, a summary, a book blurb, a synopsis, notes on narrative thread, research note, and excerpts from the memoir.

I will also be querying agents directly; I doubt very much if agents will be chasing after my book, contract in hand, just because they have seen my site, but it will offer a link to those elements that agents need to base their decisions on whether to represent or not represent a writer's work.

Agent or no agent, the book will be published, even if I self publish it. Many mid list books and chapbooks are self published anyway. Those so-called publishing cooperatives are simply masked self publishing presses devoted to publishing the work of the same three or four writers, so I have no hangups about self-publishing.

Anyway, that's about it.

Above photo: Jennifer L. Semple (1970)

Random Quote: Alan Sillitoe

"A writer is liked if he is loyal to the system. But it is the writer's duty in a sense to be disloyal...He can speak up in many ways; the best way is to write a book."

Alan Sillitoe
The Loneliness of the Long-distance Runner
(Quote from The Nation, 1969)

Monday, October 22, 2007


by George W. Bush

I think we all agree, the past is over.
This is still a dangerous world.
It's a world of madmen and uncertainty
and potential mental losses.

Rarely is the question asked
Is our children learning?
Will the highways of the Internet become more few?
How many hands have I shaked?

They misunderestimate me.
I am a pitbull on the pantleg of opportunity.
I know that the human being and the fish can coexist.
Families is where our nation finds hope, where our wings take dream.

Put food on your family!
Knock down the tollbooth!
Vulcanize society!
Make the pie higher! Make the pie higher!

I found this when I googled "George W. Bush poem" (or poetry, perhaps)
For references, check this: http://www.snopes.com/politics/bush/piehigher.asp

I believe that the person who orchestrated this poem is a cartoonist for The Washington Post, Richard Thompson. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Thompson_%28cartoonist%29

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Djelloul Marbrook, contributor to Foetry.com wins!

Poems in response to 9/11
Win coveted Kent State prize

Anyone who doubts the value to society of our aging population should take heart in the example of a 73-year-old retired newspaperman who has just won one of the nation's most coveted poetry prizes for a book of poems he was inspired to write after the attacks of September 11, 2001,

Djelloul Marbrook, whose first newspaper editor renamed him Del, is the 2007 winner of Kent State University's Tom and Stanley Wick Prize for his book, Far From Algiers.

Stuffing sky-blue notebooks in his pockets, he began walking around Manhattan determined to affirm his beloved city and country in the wake of the insane and murderous attacks. Marbrook had started writing poems in Manhattan when he was 14. In his thirties he abandoned writing poetry after publishing a few poems in small journals, but he never stopped reading and studying poetry.

Then at age 67, appalled by the terrorist attacks, the poet in him awakened. He had no idea of making a book or even pursuing a theme, but sometime in 2006, as he considered his work spread on a dining table, the underlying sensibility of more than 100 of the poems emerged. The clue was the title of one poem, Far From Algiers.

Marbrook recognized that he had been writing about belonging and unbelonging. As he examined this emergent idea he saw as a veteran journalist that the massive population dislocations caused by poverty and globalization rendered alienation a pressing issue of our time, an aspect of its Zeitgeist.

He saw that his own experience in America--having been born in Algiers to an American artist and a Bedouin father--foreshadowed the post-war experience of millions of people uprooted from one place and struggling to set down roots in another.

Marbrook had arrived in America a gravely ill infant. A doctor warned his grandmother and aunt, with whom he spent his first five years, that he probably would not survive. But his grandmother was determined not to allow him to die on her watch.

That he was American he never doubted. He played baseball and ice hockey creditably and served honorably as a Navy volunteer. But there were inklings from his maternal family that perhaps he wasn't quite as American as they were, the same sort of signals emitted today by people who wrap themselves in the flag.

Complicating matters for him, his mother invented a romantic story that his father had died in a hunting accident while she was pregnant. It wasn't until 1992 that he accidentally discovered his father had lived until 1978. The truth was that Djelloul had been conceived behind the back of his father's girlfriend. His father chose the girlfriend, and Djelloul and his mother departed for New York.

In this milieu of lies and otherness--far from Algiers--Djelloul strove to become his kind of American. "I owe it to the Navy that I have any idea of who I am," he says. "The Navy was my first family. Its acceptance was unconditional and unalloyed. Any danger being in the Navy might have posed seemed an inconsequential price compared to this. I finally knew the name of the game."

Learning of the prize, Marbrook sent flowers to Toi Derricotte, the highly regarded poet and University of Pittsburgh professor, who made the award. Derricotte wrote back, "Thank you so much for the flowers of Emily Dickinson; and thank you even more for that exciting, wise, sad and unique manuscript of your poetry. I am 66, so maybe the sad and ironic humor that I'm developing spoke to me from those poems, and also the way you embody the painful paradox of social and spiritual violence. And then to read more about the history of Algiers and see how colonialism is the same always and everywhere! Thank you for your poems and your philosophy!"

Kent State University Press will publish Far From Algiers next year, and Derricotte and Marbrook will read their work at Kent State together. Marbrook lives in Germantown, NY, and Manhattan.

1093 Woods Road, Germantown NY 12526, 518 537 3833
Djelloul's blog and web site
His mother Juanita Guccione's art
His aunt Irene Rice Pereira's art:
His e-novel, "Alice Miller's Room"

Friday, October 12, 2007

Al Gore, Nobel Peace Prize Recipient

How about that Al Gore being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize?

I must admit: I didn't see it coming.

But it's about time that an environmentalist would win this prize.

From "Al Gore 2008 Draft Compaign": Al Gore's statement.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Doris Lessing wins Nobel Prize

One thing I know: she was not on the list of odds-on favorites. I have to admit that I haven't read her books, but I've certainly heard of her.

I'm sorry I've been such an errant blogger.

I get a kick out of their awarding this to a person of her age.

Any thoughts out there?

NOTE: Thanks, Nomi. Hope you don't mind, but here's a partial blurb and link to the story:

STOCKHOLM, Sweden - Doris Lessing, author of dozens of works from short stories to science fiction, including the classic "The Golden Notebook," won the Nobel Prize for literature Thursday. She was praised by the judges for her "skepticism, fire and visionary power."

The Swedish academy's announcement was stunning even by the standards of Nobel judges, who have been known for such surprises as Austria's Elfriede Jelinek and Italy's Dario Fo.


I didn't see this coming either, but I'm glad to see that this noted writer was awarded this prize.

Best, Jennifer

Friday, October 5, 2007

Pavement Saw Press and David Baratier

In recent research I’ve been conducting, I came across the following post on the Poetics listserv out of Buffalo. It’s from David Baratier of Pavement Saw Press, from April of this year. I would post this correction on the listserv itself, but my membership has not been approved yet. Maybe it won’t ever be.

It frustrates me to see someone so self-righteously denounce Foetry.com’s work, particularly in light of the fact that I did not write _one word_ of the paragraph he attributed to me. Another forum member, Monday Love, wrote it. Baratier was completely careless in this post. And no, I’m not against all contests either. And I’m pro Monday Love too.


Date: Sun, 1 Apr 2007 22:35:21 -0700
Reply-To: editor@pavementsaw.org
Sender: UB Poetics discussion group
From: David Baratier
Subject: Agni needs a spine
In-Reply-To: Content-Type: text/plain; charset=iso-8859-1The situation with foetry affects all of us. It is apparent from my
interactions with foetry that Alan Cordle is against all contests, even an
honest one. Foetry first went after me insinuating that I appeared in the
Denver Quarterly because I had Bin Ramke as a judge. That statement sat on
their site for many months even after the timeline was shown to them that
proved that the accusation was false. I am not sure why we were brought
onto their site except for an apparent need of Cordle to attack Ramke and
anyone who used him as a judge. The passage below written by Cordle is yet
another instance of his making things up without evidence:
————————- Let’s see. Please tell me if I got anything
wrong. David Baratier’s letters and poems have appeared in the Denver
Quarterly, editor Bin Ramke, professor, University of Denver. Baratier is
editor of Pavement Saw Press, in Ohio, which gets money from Ohio
taxpayers in order to establish, according to Pavement Saw Press’s mission
statement, a “non-university affiliated press” which helps Ohio’s economy
by attracting outside attention and publishing “works of national
signifiance.” Dana Curtis, Ph.D. University of Denver, wins Pavement Saw
Press Prize, picked by Ramke. Curtis is founder & editor-in-chief of
Elixir Press, based in Denver. Jake Adam York, director of creative
writing, University of Colorado at Denver, and Colorado Council on the
Arts fellow, wins Elixir Press Prize. Sounds to me like
university-affiliated Denver is the cat and the Ohio taxpayers are the
cream. It looks like, so far at least, there’s a nice little Denver system
in place here. Very nice. ———————————————-
Ok, Back to my side again The above written by Cordle is a total
fabrication. York and Curtis didn’t know each other in fact, at the time
Dana was in Minneapolis, not Denver I did not know Bin except for asking
him to judge the contest and I asked him because I called to find out if
they were going to run a interview I did with Simon Perchik (which
appeared as a feature in an early issue of Jacket) and while he was on the
line I asked if he would be interested. I’ll just stop here. The whole
thing is starting to bother me again. Our contest is blind judged, the
manuscripts are stripped of the name and publication credits, if we can
afford a judge, the judge is sent 25 manuscripts out of all recieved. If
not I end up judging the batch I am sent back from the readers. If I am
able to afford publishing two books (1000 run each) from the entries I do.
Then we pay to mail everyone at least their entry fee worth of books we
have published. I think we run one of the fairest contests there is, I
challenged Cordle to come up with a place that did better. I am still
waiting. Anyway, my experience is that we would have something false
written about us with no evidence, and once that material appeared on the
foetry website it became my job to “prove him wrong.” I should also
mention that Levine is one of our authors. And that (for the record, as to
avoid more wild speculation) his book won our contest before Tupelo was
publishing. I also do not see why Levine being accused of a problem with
the way he runs his press should affect the acceptance of his poems into
journals. This is heading into an ugly direction, what is next? Will AGNI
apologize about publishing poems if a poet is accused of running a
red-light? Maybe AGNI should apologize for all of the poems they publish
until they get a spine. Considering the student teacher problems with
poetry awards and with contests who have chosen a winner beforehand, my
amazement with Cordle is how inflated he is over the little he has
revealed. Be well David Baratier, Editor Pavement Saw Press PO Box 6291
Columbus, OH 43206 http://pavementsaw.org

Thursday, October 4, 2007

A Response to AWP's Call for Money

Dear David W. Fenza,
Thank you for your interest in my money.
It is certainly admirable that AWP is working so hard for its membership by increasing your "honoraria" for your contributing writers.
In addition, I am quite certain that your numerous prizes are helping out many new writers, although I, as a totally non-connected "emerging writer," have not personally benefited from your award programs.
However, I have, in the past, often "donated" to these programs.
I am particularly puzzled by your assertion that you "have provided a supportive network and community for writers who often feel isolated in their devotion to a difficult and lonely art."
Hummm. I don't remember any AWP representative reaching out to me in any way, except at renewal time and during times of your organization's own financial need.
You probably do introduce "many writers to one another"--I believe it is called the yearly AWP Conference.
"We live in a silly, vulgar, and destructive culture," you write so stridently. I agree 100% with this statement.
It's silly, vulgar, and destructive when your organization and Poets and Writers turn a blind eye to--and even support--the current non-transparent contest model perpetuated by esteemed universities and literary journals.
If the writing community were truly interested in rising above our vulgar culture, it would work toward developing a strong code of ethics for fee-based literary contests and the general awarding of literary prizes funded by federal and state tax money.
Fee-based contests should offer a level playing field for all entrants and should never be weighted to pump up the academic careers of well-connected mediocre writers.
After careful review, I'm afraid I must pass on your plea for my money; should your organization decide to take action on what is really good for the profession, then I will reconsider my financial decision.
Good wishes,
Jennifer Semple Siegel

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

On Achieving Happiness: Acceptance, New Direction, and Attitude Readjustment

Recently, I discovered a charming website called Rate Your Students (RYS), a place where academics, both the privileged and unprivileged, can come together and bitch about the unfairness of having to put up with college students one level above, say, a peanut butter sandwich and conniving colleagues who would torpedo one's tenure-track career.

This post pretty much sets the tone of RYS.

Boo, hoo!

Personally, I'm having a great semester--though it helps having only one class. My students seem engaged, respectful, and smart, so I look forward to going to class and engaging in our literary discussions. Yesterday, I yanked a few unsuspecting souls from the class, and we did an impromptu (and unrehearsed) reading of Susan Glaspell's Trifles (1916), a proto-feminist play. They were all good sports and did an amazing job. In fact, one young lady did such a fine job of delivering dialogue that I encouraged her to consider trying out for one of our college productions. Last semester, I had a full load (four classes), and I have to admit that even then I had a good semester--not perfect, but when one has 75+ students, one is bound to end up with a few slackers.

I'm just overall happier these days.

How can this be? I'm still on the lowest possible rung on the academic ladder--the next step down is called "out." Thus, my situation is, at best, tenuous. I should be wailing and gnashing my teeth, but I'm not.

For one thing, I don't have time to whine. My domaining enterprise, albeit profits still hooked on life support, takes a long time, and I'm still low on the learning curve.

Also, while jumping into a new profession can be confusing and frustrating, it's enriching to stretch one's mind in a totally different direction; I learn something new every day, and that is satisfying and fun, especially when those AHA! moments come.

I'm no longer defined by a certain standing in academia because I have made my peace with the fact that I am now a "true" adjunct: one who comes to class, does her job (well, I hope), and then leaves and pursues her real job. As a result, I am a better teacher because I have left any residual bitterness behind.

Also, I have finished I, Driven: memoir of a teen's involuntary commitment and am in the process of shopping it around. There, too, I have decided that I will not be defined by what the establishment publishing industry thinks of me, and, thus, my work. These days, there are too many options open to writers, including self publishing and/or blogging it (with adsense plastered on each page). The establishment publishing industry can twitter all they want--see if I care.

Lesson learned: always have plan "B" in mind--and maybe even plan "C."

Now, about Post Foetry. I don't have the resources to turn this into a true investigative site. I'm basically one person with limited energy and funds.

My call for team members has fallen flat. Evidently, writers are very fearful folks who are afraid of rocking the literary boat (even anonymously), so good folks do nothing while contest fraud continues. So be it. Sometimes one learns best in the school of hard knocks...

Of course, for better or for worse, I will continue to post here. I will continue to speak out against literary contest fraud and warn the naive and young, but I'm not going to dabble in investigative work.

I'm just going to post what I think about various topics in the publishing industry, so feel free to view this blog as Bugzita/Jennifer's form of literary masturbation.

Don't worry, be happy.

Jennifer, Bugzita, Ms Domainer, Ms. Siegel

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Poet Paul Muldoon: New Poetry Editor at The New Yorker

In November, Poet Paul Muldoon will assume The New Yorker poetry editorship, replacing Alice Quinn who is leaving to edit and research the journals of Elizabeth Bishop.
It will be interesting to see how the magazine's poetry department evolves from this change.