Sunday, July 24, 2011

Fledgling Mags and Rejected Rejections

So I've been watching a lot of Buffy, and doing the normal summer stuff: swimming, biking, complaining, night running, clacking away on my trusty typewriter, and reading a ton of lit mags.

I've been submitting to a lot of new magazines lately. I don't mean new to me, though they are that also; I mean baby magazines. The ones on Duotrope that say "fledgling." Ones that don't even have issues out yet.

What are your thoughts on submitting to new publications?

Anyway, all that aside, I've also been submitting to the tried-and-true mags, taking my lumps from the old favorites. Just this month I've added rejections to my pile from Caketrain, Wonderfort, The American Scholar, The Pedestal, and AGNI. It's a slow month, compared to June, when I got nearly twenty rejections. I suspect the editors are out doing the normal summer stuff, too.

Another thing I've been doing is sliding into the groove over at Stymie. I'm really loving this poetry editor gig. I do love reading for PANK, but the one great thing about Stymie is that I read only poetry as, duh, the poetry editor. Poetry is the thing I know about. I can read fiction and react to it, but the fact that I don't write fiction lends some ignorance to my opinions.

Apparently some people don't think my opinions are that valuable in the poetry arena, as just today I received my first rejected rejection, which the PANK editors know all too well. It wasn't an exceptional letter. Filled with the necessary expletives that one is prone to utter in her garage/living room/dorm room/kitchen pantry when she is rejected. The grammar was spot on. I just wanted something... more.

Some of my poems came out this month, too, so hooray for summer (Buffy Summers, ha). Check out two of my pieces in the latest issue of Emprise Review, and seven of my little nuggets at The Legendary. This coming week, check out fwriction : review, where I'll close out their poetry month. And of course, go forth and submit your own writing to these classy journals. And continue to take your rejection lumps without, you know, all the angry letter writing.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Strange Review 7: Joshua Fitzgerald

Today's awesome Strange Review comes to you from mathematician and graph maker Joshua Fitzgerald.

"Dear internet users in the year 2011:

My name is Dr. Daniel Roberts and I am a psychologist from the year 2048. I have sent you this email from the future (Gmail is quite advanced in our time) in hopes to prevent a pandemic which I believe has the potential to destroy our precious human society. Around the year 2025, my colleagues and I noticed a trend in many of our young patients: many of our youth were displaying symptoms of apathy, boredom, and anhedonia. At first we believed we had simply discovered a new mood disorder that had not yet been classified. As the disorder which came to be known as “Global Yawning” became an accepted diagnosis, we noticed the rate of incidence was rising rapidly--too rapidly to be explained by the increased rate of testing. As the graph below clearly indicates, Global Yawning's rate of incidence is increasing exponentially, (probably the beginning of a logistic growth pattern, a pattern we expect to see from pandemics).

Persons suffering from GY erroneously believe that the world around them is boring. Yawners typically avoid any emotional or intellectual stimulation, as such activities which cause them to become confused. For instance, if my history is correct, youth of your time enjoy listening to rock and hip-hop music, watching action and comedy movies, and reading fiction thrillers. All of these activities have died out in 2048. For example, in our time, Webster's Dictionary is the most bought and read book. The most recent box office success was unedited security footage from a parking garage. The TV guide channel (which, of course, only lists itself) is the only show left on television. Recent college graduates seek jobs only in data entry or mail sorting. Interestingly, the musician John Mayer is still quite popular. The cruel nature of this disorder renders patients unwilling or unable to conceive of any more exciting forms of stimulation. People in 2048 are not actually entertained by these activities; they simply believe, despite our pleadings, that nothing more exciting actually exists.

We believe that Global Yawning could result in a complete breakdown in human culture: no great works of literature or art and no triumphs of engineering or design (for instance, space travel is far too exciting for Yawners). Thankfully, I believe I have discovered a cure.

We currently believe that Global Yawning is a result of decades of boredom, caused by boring books, boring movies, boring jobs, and boring hobbies. I thought that if past generations had found more excitement in the world around them, the desensitization that leads to GY might have been stopped. My colleagues and I looked for the most exciting things that were happening in the year 2011 and I discovered Brett Elizabeth Jenkins' poetry, which we find to be extraordinarily stimulating and the perfect antidote to Global Yawning.

Therefore, I, Dr. Daniel Roberts, implore you to read the poetry of Bejjie (as she is known our time). The future of the human race depends upon it!"

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Poems About the Sun

I moved to Minnesota last summer. For a few terrible months, I lived in the city of Austin. I had a nice apartment, met some nice people, and got clawed up by the cutest cat imaginable. But Austin, MN is home to the SPAM factory, and fifty percent of the week, it smelled like dead pig brains. The other fifty percent of the week, it smelled like hickory smoked bacon. Eighty percent of the people I knew there were under the age of five. AND, there were no lakes in Austin. In the land of 10,000 lakes, I picked the one county that didn't have one.

Thankfully, in December, I got married (yay!) and moved to Albert Lea. We live in a little one-bedroom apartment above a law office, one block away from a lake. There's one neighbor who brews and shares his own beer with us, and one Spanish-speaking neighbor who plays loud Mexican gospel and polka music. It's strange, and we love it here. Another unforeseen upside to moving to Albert Lea is that for the remainder of the school year, I had a twenty-five minute commute to work in the morning. It gave me a chance to funnel coffee into my system, listen to classical NPR, and calm down before I spent the entire day hanging out with three- and four-year-olds.

Commuting on I-90 in the winter could be treacherous, but it was also beautiful. I left the apartment at 7:00 every morning and got to watch the sun come up five times a week in January, February, and most of March. I did stop a few times to take pictures of the blood-fire sky, but my little camera could never do it. Incidentally, I started worrying about the sun. Every morning was a tiny, terrible reminder that we are hanging onto a rock that is floating in an enormous universe, kept warm by a gigantic fire burning itself up in the sky.

I didn't notice until March or April that I had unknowingly amassed twenty or thirty poems about the sun. Some of them are worrisome poems; a few of them are not.

Anyway, I thought I would explain why I am about to have four or five poems published about the sun. One of them came out recently in an issue of Right Hand Pointing. Another poem of mine will come out in the next few days in issue 20 of Emprise Review, so check that one out too, if you so desire.

I don't know if anyone else is freaked out when they think too long about the sun. Maybe I'm alone in this. But I'd like to think there are others. Maybe I can join a support group. Or develop agoraphobia.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Here's An Update Already, Jeeze, Stop Hounding Me

Okay so nobody has been pestering me about updating my blog, but I have been busy the past few days, swimming, peeling off huge patches of sunburnt skin, eating tons of food, reading, going through submissions for Stymie, and, oh yeah, blogging for Specter Lit Mag.

What started out as a joke over twitter turned into me being the Lit Blogger for Specter, essentially, as the editor puts it, "taking the news and current events in literature & firing out great content." No pressure. "Perez Hilton goes lit scholar," I joked in my first post. But really. Since then I've posted a few things: some writing tips from my files as a PANK reader, and a Venn diagram comparing me with Charles Bukowski. Who doesn't want to know how Hank and I match up? I think about it all the time.

By the way, if you have any Sports & Leisure-ish poetry, you should make sure to submit to Stymie, and we'll give it a good shake. That link there will take you to our online submission manager.

I also ordered the game The Secret Island of Dr. Quandary, which I used to play all the time in elementary school during computer lab. I can't imagine it will be too difficult to beat now that I'm 25, but who's to say? I started playing Freedom! again, after someone told me you can play it for free online, and I've been totally obsessed for two days now. I haven't won, yet. I don't know if it's possible, though I do remember doing it at least once in my formative years. Maybe eight-year-olds are just better at computer games than 25-year-olds.

So that's why the blog has been empty lately. Important stuff. Lit stuff, and elementary school game stuff. Waiting for rejections, and receiving rejections, and even getting a few acceptances.

I have to go play Freedom! now.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Strange Review 6: Jonny Rice

Today's Strange Review comes to you from the face and brains of Jonny Rice, the 2000 Year Old Man.

In the email that accompanied this Strange Review, just like I love it, Jonny reviewed his own review, saying, I might have gotten a little carried away. Which is simultaneously true and not true. Stay tuned til the end, when he puts T.S. Eliot (and his huge nose) in his place.

"I first met Brett Elizabeth Jenkins Braun when she had a different name. If you think about that for a minute, it should blow your mind. YOUR MIND! This woman went by a different name. I was called Huel if that is any indication of how crazy that is. And to top it all off, we did not work at a sex club. This review could not have started any better!

I say these things because they are important and vital and need to be said. Like that one quote from that one movie that you loved as a child. Think of that quote. It was important, right? It made you who you are today. You would be someone different, like Ralph Macchio, were it not for that very important quote, right?

Here is something else that needs to be said: Brett Elizabeth Jenkins Braun has too many names. Also, she is brilliant at things you are not. She is brilliant at extracting whole landfills of emotional refuse from a single line or word or frase. Yeah, I spelled that with an "f." PAY ATTENTION!

Some people never get to that point. They strive and strurve and work and yolk until they can't feel their fingers because for some reason they've gone batty and have slammed them between two hard things. Like a hotplate and a giant inflatable hammer filled with pennies. Why would someone do that?!? To FEEL something, dammit. This is so obvious I don't even know why I have to say it. Just forget it.

Brett Elizabeth Jenkins Braun or Braun Jenkins or what was your camp name again? Zipline? Quadrangle? Argyle? It doesn't matter now. What matters is words. And how you string them together, like spaghetti squash, which, let's face it, while very fun to look at, does not taste like real spaghetti. We all know that. But the idea of it is awesome. Please let's make this about ideas! And beautiful slogans of pain and regret and pencil bites and I love you and surprised by joy. I would borrow your words if I could, and let them flow from my mouth like gorgeous waves of glory and surrender. I would lay down my sword before the towering inferno that is Brett Elizabeth, and crown her with glory and honor and power forever and ever amen. And I don't mean that in a weird way.

I think T.S. Eliot said it best -- "Where are my crumpets, Marjorie?" What an asshole, right?"

Monday, July 4, 2011


Today is Independence Day, which means to me that I make a lot of tweets and status updates that are in all capital letters, like the founding fathers would have wanted. Please enjoy below what appears to be the most patriotic picture of all time.

When I was a senior in college, I was in a guys vs. girls competition with the history majors (I don't know how I got picked to do this) that was like Family Feud. The history professors polled the freshmen with questions about the nation, and we had to name the top four or five responses for each question. The questions were relatively simple questions like "Name an amendment" (which I understand is not a question), "Who was one of our founding fathers" and things of that nature. The girls won because we could think like freshmen. The number two answer for "Who was one of our founding fathers" was "Abraham Lincoln." I don't think this reflects poorly on my university in particular, but probably just on eighteen-year-olds everywhere.

That's my patriotic story for the day. But I also have some news unrelated to liberty and blowing things up, except in the metaphorical sense.

I got a poem accepted today by Bluestem Magazine that will be out sometime in September. It is, for your information, one of my many poems about lying on the floor and not wanting to get up. So you can look forward to that.

I also fell into a glamorous position blogging for the brand new Specter Magazine, which will launch its maiden issue this fall. You guys, go and submit awesome things there so that you can help make the internet a magical place.

Now go and eat beef (if you're into that), drink a brewski, and look at people shoot stuff off and blow stuff up!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

So Much News I'm Going to Need a Bigger News Bucket

The boring tediums of the day. Adjusting to the new thing that gmail is doing. Getting the mail right after it's delivered, even though I don't want to open any of it. Making lists of things I must do, and making sure I put at least one thing on there I've already completed.

I know everyone knows that it's hot, because the Earth is rotating rapidly on its axis, and it's July, and that's what happens when we get closer to the sun. But it's worth mentioning anyway. I have included a diagram in case it's confusing at all.

Not only because it's July, but also due to an array of other factors, I have some poems up in a few magazines this month. One of my poems is is the current issue of Thunderclap! Magazine, along with an excellent lineup of other writers. You can buy it in print or as an e-book, so you should go get your dirty mitts on it right now.

Yesterday the new issue of decomP went live on the interwebz, in which you can find another one of my poems, along with the poems of several others, including J. Bradley, the PANK interviews editor and inventor of the best poem titles ever.

I'll have several other publications coming out during this summer, which I will make you aware of (dur).

The other bit of news I'm delighted to share is that I've been chosen as the new Poetry Editor of Stymie Magazine. They publish all things sports & games, so if you write sports & games lit, or if you like it, or if you know how to read, or if you like things that are good, you should go check it out. I'm looking forward to when I'll start saying "We publish" instead of "they publish." It'll come soon, I'm sure.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Strange Review 5: Dirk Walker

I meant to post this several days ago, as it is an excellent Strange Review; however, Will and I just returned home this afternoon from a 24-hour car trip from Florida up to Minnesota. Our apartment is a grillion degrees, we bought an expensive air conditioner that we may not be able to actually use, and there's sweat coming out of my body like a faucet. I've been busy. But this review cheers me up.

In this Strange Review, radio DJ Dirk Walker calls me out on the alleged myth of my illustrious mitten wearing. He even uses my full married name. I feel like I'm in trouble!

Exceptional Mitten Wearer

"This seemingly harmless phrase has been hanging out on the end of our Ms. Jenkins-Braun’s email signature for as long as I have known her. Thing of it is, I don’t think I’ve EVER seen her in a pair of mittens. In three years one would think they would see another person who claims to be exceptional at mitten-wearing actually IN a pair of mittens, but alas! No mittens. Ever. I don’t think I’ve even seen her wear a pair of gloves! This is incredibly troubling.

There are two schools of thought I’ve employed to explain the reason why Brett claims to wear mittens exceptionally, but without any empirical evidence:

1- Brett Jenkins-Braun has a long-hidden phobia of mittens.

Hey, who am I to judge? Everybody’s got their quirks and those of you reading this who know me know that I’m most definitely no exception (ask me about my childhood fear of domed ceilings sometime). Maybe by giving herself the credential of exceptional mitten wearer at the end of her email messages she’s helping herself to get over her fear. But, Brett, if you really are afraid of mittens, just ‘fess up! You’re among friends! We love you! I for one will try as hard as I can to help you overcome this phobia.

2- Brett-Jenkins Braun is highly trained in the art of discreet mitten-wearing. Personally, I think this is the most likely scenario. This woman isn’t playing around when she puts on mittens! No funky, kitschy ski resort patterns for Brett; we’re talking mittens that look like real hands and crafted by an order of Franciscan monks on the top of Mt. McKinley or something. Her mittens are so lifelike that nobody can actually tell she has them on!

The choice is yours what to believe, but either way I want to see some cold hard verification to back up Brett’s claim to exceptional mitten wearing. Either you cough up the evidence or I bring in a private investigator, Brett!"