Sunday, June 26, 2011

Strange Review 4

Today's Strange Review truly is strange, and comes to you from Master Scott Smith, whose title was bestowed on him from the Bennington Writing Seminars at Bennington College. In his email to me, Scott reviewed his own Strange Review, citing it as " something gawdawful." Please, enjoy it here:

"Brett Jenkins is not fit to be your Prom Queen of interrogative words. She is nowhere close to being the Drag Queen of prepositional phrases. She is, however, a soon to be ex-wife of this reviewer.

When I read the words she has written in poetic forms, I wonder aloud to myself and anyone else at the bus stop: “What kind of sandwich did the author eat while writing? And...what kind of bread was it on? Instinctively, I always answer: a chicken salad sandwich with walnuts, cranberries, and relish on a nine grain baguette. I usually find that the beverage of choice would be an ice cold whisky sour in the left hand and a vodka tonic in the right hand. I then tend to discover I am not at a bus stop at all but rather in a furniture store, farting on all the fine leather chairs.

What I am trying to get across to you here is the following: Brett's poems are very quick to give the reader a few moments to reflect on their own existence in the company of strangers but there are not nearly enough crotch shots or upskirt moments for my taste. As a matter of fact, I am generally appalled at the lack of toothless grins featured in your magazine. For shame! When will America learn that we aren't all as beautiful as Brett is when she wears her best pant suit and frolics around at the rest home on Tuesday afternoons at 4pm. We could learn much from this former Saltan of Western Indiana."

Scott Smith
Writer, Cherry Pie Enthusiast, Tuxedo T-Shirt Guy

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Strange Review 3: William Jenkins-Braun

Today I'm posting a Strange Review written by my own husband, William Jenkins-Braun!

"Les Revues étranges, by Jean-Marc Pétard, is a nonpareil classic of French poetic criticism. First published in 1975, it initially went unnoticed by American critics, despite being adroitly translated into English by Herbert Wolters-Reader the subsequent year. By and large, this oversight was due to the massive attention directed at De la grammatologie and its translation, Of Grammatology, which was only then being published in the United States.

It was not until 2010, with the publication of a new translation by Ralph Butts and Simon Gass, that Les Revues étranges began to gain traction in American academic circles. The new translation contained an appendix by Pétard, adapted from an address he gave at Harvard University regarding the developments in Western poetry during the thirty-five years since he first wrote Les Revues étranges. Among the poets addressed therein, we find this assessment of Brett Elizabeth Jenkins:

Ce que m’interesse chez la poésie de Mlle Jenkins c’est les images. On y a des images d’une pureté qu’on ne trouve pas chez aucun poète contemporain, ni chez Bukowski, ni chez Graham. Les images qu’on découvre chez “Hello Moon” et “Message I Left Myself on the Phone” sont telles qu’on ne peut faire que les mettre avec les mieux de Charles Baudelaire. Sûrement, on ne trouve pas ailleurs leurs pareilles, cette clarté frénetique qui se délecte des choses immondes.

What interests me about Ms. Jenkins’s poetry is her images. She has such pure images in her poetry. You can’t find such pure images in the works of any other contemporary poet, neither in Bukowksi nor in Graham. The images you find in “Hello Moon” and “Message I Left to Myself on the Phone” are so great that you have to place them among Baudelaire’s best. Certainly, you don’t find their equal elsewhere; that clear frenzy that delights in disgusting things (trans. Butts & Gass).

It is a telling assessment, one that surely marks a poetic talent worth watching.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Strange Review 2

Today's Strange Review comes to us from Erik Evenson, who graduated with me from the Bennington Writing Seminars at Bennington College. If you don't get the joke here, it's probably because you don't know how to read so what are you doing at my blog and you have stupid hair.

"I've personally collaborated with Brett and I can tell you, his work is amazing. He displays a savage, carnal ability to portray the human male, his throbbing phallus gleaming brighter than all others. His poetry returns us to the brass-knuckle era of Dylan Thomas and William Carlos Williams. I could go on and on, but his name says it all: Brett Elizabeth Jenkins"

Along with today's Strange Review comes the news that three of my poems are up for perusal at Pressboardpress. Please go check them out, along with the other great poets & prosers that have been featured there this month!

Also, I'm not sure who's got Tumblrs these days, as I am quite new to it myself. There are so many different ways of staying in contact with people, it kind of stresses me out. Anyway, I'm not really clear about what Tumblr is for, but like all other social media outlets, I am addicted. I will say that yesterday when Will was trying to find my Tumblr page, he stumbled across this phenomenon. The poem in question was previously featured in The Medulla Review last year.

I guess if you want people to read your stuff, short poems are totally the way to go!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Open for Business

Today's news is brought to you in part by Pew Charitable Trusts (not really), and Bryan Zabala, who designed my excellent new business cards, which you can see the front of here. The back of the card designates me as a poet, so I guess there's no turning back now.

I've begun leaving them in different restaurants and homes around the southern and central Minnesota area, and soon we'll be traveling all across the nation, so who knows where you might be able to stumble across one of these babies.

Also, you know, if you see me or ask me for one, I'd be happy to oblige.

I guess being a poet isn't really a business, but if I had to make a poetry menu, it would go like this:


haiku ................................... $3
tanka ................................... $5
limerick ............................... $5
acrostic .............................. $10
ode ..................................... $10
sonnet ................................ $14
ghazal ................................ $20
vinanelle ............................ $20
sestina ............................... $39
epic ............................... $1,000


monostitch .......................... $1
couplet ................................ $2
tristitch ............................... $3
chef's choice ........................ $4
quatrain .............................. $4
quintain .............................. $5
catch of the day ................ $10

Order up!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Strange Reviews

Throughout the summer, starting today, I'll be featuring Strange Reviews on my blog.

Strange Reviews are reviews of my work from people who know me and my work, as well as people who do not know me or my work. You can contact me if you'd like to write a post for Strange Reviews. Today's comes from Joseph Brooks, Indiana Resident and YouTube Aficionado.

"Brett Jenkins is many things: a triple-threat, a multi-hyphenate, and all that and more. But this is about poetry, and because she is my friend I have read her poetry and attended her readings. It was because I am her friend that I went to a reading, but it was because of the poems that I wanted to read more. Her poems are probably describable, but I'd rather say that they're indescribable, because then I don't have to compare them to other poets or poetry terms and forms or norms. When I choose material to read, I am not likely to choose poetry as a written form. But Brett's poetry does what I believe poetry is supposed to do: elicit emotions. Some poems are funny, others are sad, and it often isn't apparent which is which until the final line. Always interesting, I would recommend Brett's poems to non-poetry readers. It may surprise you. Plus, since most poems don't fill up the entire page, and Brett's are no exception, it makes you feel like you've read more than you really have."

Joseph Brooks, unemployed educator

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Other News

I was so very pleased to be able to go to the Walker Art Center for the Minneapolis leg of the Rag + Bone Poetry Tour. They cultivated a wonderful conversation about the American ideal of movement: self-reinvention, seeking the self, and reasons one leaves and is left. Jakob VanLammeren and Amy Lipman were accompanied by another Midwest poet, Katie Rauk. It was refreshing to get out of Albert Lea and experience poetry again.

Aside from traveling northward to see Rag + Bone in action, I have been busying myself with summer work: gardening, writing, and of course, getting rejected (see: last post).

I found a fantastic Smith-Corona typewriter at a local antique shop for twenty-five dollars and had to pick it up. I had an old electric typewriter a few years ago that got a lot of miles out of it. It was gifted to me by my good pal Brent Chamberlin of James and the Drifters. It later broke, and knowing nothing about how to repair typewriters or even how to find somebody who might know how to repair typewriters, I left it in a closet in my old apartment when I moved out.

Now I have this beauty to fiddle around with.

The red bookshelf it's sitting on in the picture was a same-day find at the Salvation Army. The side of the bookshelf says "Rambo" in black paint. I've never had a bookshelf with a name before.

Thankfully another summer activity I've been indulging myself with is watching my poetry go up in several online journals.

Last week a poem of mine went up on Everyday Genius, and not long after that, three of my poems kicked off an excellent issue of NAP magazine, which you can find here.

It's been a busy summer so far, and will only get better. In two weeks Will and I are going down to Florida, and at the beginning of August, we will begin our enormous road trip out East. Hopefully we will be able to get some more night boating in among the journeys. Maybe next time without the boat police pulling us over.

1 Year, 100 Rejections: COMPLETE

As many of you know, I've been submitting the heck out of my poems this year, trying my hardest to get 100 rejections, and today is the big day, my friends. The Antioch Review sent me my one-hundredth rejection since September 1, when I started this little project. I have already blogged about the first seventy-five rejections I received, but I'll wrap up the last 25 here.

76. Anti-: May 7: Form letter
77. Threepenny Review: May 8: Form letter
78. POETRY: May 11: Form letter
79. DIAGRAM: May 12: Form letter
80. Crazyhorse: May 13: Form letter
81. The Los Angeles Review: May 19: Form letter
82. Hayden's Ferry Review: May 20: Form letter
83. New Ohio Review: May 23: Form letter (I had queried to ask about the status of my submission, as they had it for nearly 200 days. The editor responded and said one reader had enjoyed it and it had been passed through to the next round for consideration. Later that day I received this form letter.)
84. The New Yorker: May 25: Form letter
85. DIAGRAM: May 25: Form letter
86. The Atlantic Monthly: May 31: Form letter
87. Knockout Magazine: May 31: Form letter
88-89: A Capella Zoo: May 31 & June 1: Form letters (They require you to submit your poems individually, which helped when I had to withdraw one from consideration due to its acceptance elsewhere)
90. Rattle: June 5: Form letter
91. Kill Author: June 10: Personal letter
92. The Paris Review: June 10: Form letter
93. The New Republic: June 12: Form letter
94. Foundling Review: June 12: Personal letter (This time they referred to me as BEJ! A nickname basis for rejecting me. I like it.)
95. Gargoyle: June 13: Personal letter (With some suggestions for other magazines to submit to; awesome!)
96. Threepenny Review: June 13: Form letter
97. The Orange Room Review: June 14: Personal letter
98. Blackbird: June 14: Form letter
99. Anderbo: June 15: Form letter
100: The Antioch Review: June 15: Form letter

Here is it, guys!

I feel pretty good about the project. In the time it took me to get 100 rejections, I also got 12 acceptances. If you do a little middle school math, that's a ratio of 1 acceptance to every 8.33 (33 repeating!) rejections. I don't mind that at all.

Special mention goes to Yaddo and FAWC for both rejecting me also, and to every preschool kid who yelled NO! at me this year.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

From Flute to Free Verse

I didn't make it to the final round of Write Bloody's open submission competition, which bums me out. So I spent all day submitting poems different places. When I catch a bad break, the only way I know how to deal with it is by spending a few fiery hours shaking my fists in the air like an epileptic, and submitting all of my new poems to journal upon journal upon journal.

This is, I think, why I am confident I will "make it" as a writer. I use the term "make it" loosely (if you see, I put quotations around it there, so that's how you know), as "making it" means different things to different people. I think if you've read my blog long enough, or know me personally, you know what it means to me.

In fourth grade I went to RC Waters Elementary school with my mom to try out different instruments so that I could be in band. I tooted the trumpet, I farted the tuba, I whinnied the clarinet and the oboe. I beat the crap out of some base drums, but I could not make a noise out of the flute.

"You're going to teach me how to play this," I said to Mrs. Witt, the band instructor.

And she did. And after that, I spent a good number of years sitting first chair in my high school's wind orchestra. And I garnered excellent marks in solo and ensemble competitions all around the state of Ohio. And I spent three high school summers playing for the All Ohio State Fair Band. And after that, I spent another few years sitting first chair in my college's concert band, pep band, and orchestra.

I changed my major to English after the first year of Music Performance, because I just didn't love it. I like music, but it's not what I wanted to do with my life.

This is going to seem weird, but because of how I'm built to function, I think the constant rejection that comes along with the life of a writer is a huge part of what keeps me submitting and writing. I love it. I love writing, and having written, but I also love being told no and then trying to change a mind or prove someone wrong.

I feel like Wayne Campbell saying "Oh yes, it will be mine."

And I'm totally okay with that.

Monday, June 6, 2011


Summer is upon us. And by "upon us" I mean summer is all up on us. Like get out my grill. Like weird guy dancing with you at the bar get away. Like earlier today my knees were sweating. Like the front part of my knees. I didn't even know that was a thing. Summer informs.

I did get a lot of suggestions for things to accomplish this summer, and I have taken every idea (every one!) and compiled a list, replete with various odd tasks and things I have been meaning to do for a while anyway (read: number 25).

So here it is. I will take pictures of the tasks I accomplish, or post some other related gif or jpeg or whatever the kids are making their pictures into these days.


1. Bake
.... A. Funfetti cupcakes (extra fun)
.... B. Rice crispy treat castle
........ i. Moat
........ ii. drawbridge
2. Comic based on Moby Dick
3. Watch sportsball game
4. Picture @ People Of Walmart
.... A. Possibly self
.... B. Doesn't have to be self
5. Magic the Gathering??
6. Watch LOST
7. Photograph red stuff for a day
8. Write poems about everyone I see today
9. Make bread bears
10. Write & send one letter a day for a week
11. Battlestar Galactica (via Skype)
12. Dress up
.... A. Party
.... B. Fancy nap
13. Make a shelf
14. Indoor plants
15. Go yard sale-ing
16. Make a collage
17. Kids book
.... A. Ducks
.... B. Being a ghost
18. Make a YouTube video
19. Write a non-fiction essay
20. Go to the beach
21. Salvation Army salvage
22. Indoor art for the walls
23. Walk around the lake
24. Write a hip hop song (lyrics)
25. Clean out car
26. Road trip
27. Camp
28. Disc golf
29. Picnic
30. Take a bath (no picture necessary)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Summer Projects for Crazy Adults

I want to know why nothing comes up when I google "Writing projects for crazy adults." Seems like there is really a market out there for something like that.

Maybe I'll have to start a new specialty blog.

Some pretty strange pictures come up if you google images of writing projects for crazy adults without the quotes there.

I googled this because I'm trying to come up with a to-do list for the summer, to keep myself occupied. I don't do well when I'm without a routine, or without something to dread on Monday. I have a few things so far, but not nearly enough to keep me busy the entire summer. This is where you come in!

Should I rewrite Hard Times as a sonnet? Should I make a collage of ducks? Invent a new form of poetry? Bake a file into a cake to help your buddy bust out of the big house?

This is for you to decide. Get your ideas to me soon, as my first project is "Complete list of things to do over the summer."