Friday, December 15, 2017

Happy 25th, Bright Hill!

Saturday, December 16th will bring a celebration of Bright Hill Literary Center and Press in Treadwell, New York. Founded by writer Bertha Rogers in the upper Catskills, the center is now 25 years old and promises to be overrun with poets and story makers all afternoon! Please come if you're in the area.

And there will be a reading to accompany a Bright Hill anthology launch. I'll be the second reader, so maybe that's about 1:15...

Alexander Cigale via facebook: Immensely proud of my association with Bright Hill Press and this 25th Anniversary Anthology, with my deep admiration for its retiring director and editor, Bertha Rogers. If you're looking for a gift of poetry and redemption this holiday season, you will not do much better than this. I have two new translations of early Osip Mandelstam poems in the book, "Conch Shell" and "Lutheran" (1911, 1912). Please, consider helping Bright Hill continue its important work with a purchase.

Contributors are Betty Aberlin, Joel Allegretti, Dorothy Friedman August, Jeanne Marie Beaumont, Bruce Bennett, Robert Bensen, Bhisham Bherwani, Mermer Blakeslee, Cheryl Boyce-Taylor, Frank Boyer, Maureen Brady, Lee Briccetti, Patricia Brody, Andrea Carter Brown, Ryan J. Browne, Joseph Bruchac, Christopher Bursk, David Cappella, Patricia CarragonAlan Catlin, Alexander Cigale, Breena Clarke, Cheryl Clarke, Joanne M. Clarkson, Suzanne Cleary, Esther Cohen, Jaimee Wriston Colbert, Alfred Corn, Nancy Vieira Couto, Kathleen Cromwell, Dale Dapkins, Eva Davidson, Carol Davis V, Brittney S,Dayeh, Chard DeNiordLori Desrosiers, Ram Devineni, Sean ThomasDougherty, George Drew, William Duke, Evelyn Duncan, Graham Duncan, Patricia Eakins, Judith Edelstein, Joe Elliot, Barbara Elovic, Alvin Eng, Karen Fabiane, Gil Fagiani, Margot Farrington, Allen C. Fischer, Sally Fisher, Charles FishmanRachel Contreni FlynnRichard Foerster, Alice B. Fogel, April Ford, Peter Fortunato, Fox Frazier-Foley, Philip FriedCarol FrostJoanna Fuhrman, Eric Gansworth, Christine Gelineau, Paul Genega, Beatrice Georgalidis, Becky Gould Gibson, Maria Gillan, Mary Gilliland, Veronica Golos, David
Bertha Rogers
Gonzalez, melissa christine goodrum, 
Roberta GouldMichael Graves, Elizabeth T. Gray Jr.,Geraldine Green, Andrei Guruianu, Naomi Guttman, Janet Hamill, Elaine Handley, Steven Hartman, Roger Hecht, Alba Delia Hernandez, Robert Hershon, Jesse Hilson, Jean Hollander, Amy Holman, Bob Holman, Ginnah Howard, Steven Huff, Colette Inez, M. J. Iuppa, Michael Jennings, Nicholas Johnson, Michael Jurkovic, Janet KaplanMeg Kearney, Ruth Moon Kempher, Judith Kerman, Burt Kimmelman, Alan King, Alison Koffler, David J. Krajicek, William Kramer, Thomas Krampf, Mindy Kronenberg, Joan Larkin, Steven Lautermilch, Jeffrey Ethan Lee, Linda Lerner, Donald Lev, Toni Mergentime Levi, Richard Levine, Helane Levine-Keating, Maria Lisella, Christopher P. Locke, Katharyn Howd Machan, Jeanne Mackin, Sheila Maldonado, Djelloul Marbrook, Lynn McGee, Kate McNairy, Joan McNerney, Billy Merrell, Sharon Mesmer, Robert Milby, Judith Mok, Rodger Moody, Daniel T. Moran, Caroline Morrell, Andrew Morris, Philip Mosley, Cynthia Neely, Murat Nemet-
NejatRichard Jeffrey Newman, Constance Norgren, John Paul O’Connor, Sharon Olinka, Steven Ostrowski, Matthew Paris, Lynn Pattison, Ellen Peckham, Alice Pero, Jo Pitkin, Palline Plum, Georgia Popoff, Andrea Potos, Gretchen Primack, Lucyna Prostko, Suzanne Rancourt, Claudia M. Reder, Lisa Rhoades, Sherry Robbins, Bertha Rogers, Jay Rogoff, Liz Rosenberg, Charles Charlie Rossiterr, Sharon Ruetenik, Helen Ruggieri, Mary Kay Rummel, Thaddeus Rutkowski, Margaret Ryan, Barbara Salvatore, Terrence Savoie, Boria Sax, Myra Shapiro, Steven Sher, Steven Sherrill, Hilary Sideris, Karen Skolfield, Scot Slaby, Jordan Smith, Matthew J. Spireng, Susan Fantl Spivack, Claudia Stanek, Julian Stannard, Shelby Stephenson, Pamela Strother, Julia Suarez, Karen Swenson, Meredith Trede, Emily Vogel, Charlotte Zöe Walker, Barry Wallenstein, John Walsh, Chocolate Waters, Michael Waters, Bruce Weber, Joe Weil, Estha Weiner, Andrew Weinstein, Bhikshuni Weisbrot, Dan Wilcox, Malcolm Willison, Martin Willitts Jr., Teresa Winchester, Dayl Wise, Scott Withiam, Chavisa Woods, Carolyne Wright, Lisa Wujnovich, Don YortyMarly Youmans, Margaret Young, Michael T. Young.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

St. Lucy's Day lights--

Saint Lucy (Lucia) of Syracuse as portrayed by art student Mary MacArthur of the Catholic Illustrator's Guild--she did this piece in a figure drawing class (and made a few additions) back in 2010. I had never heard of the CIG before this, but as I love Fra Angelico, I like their motto: Fra Angelico ora pro nobis. Instead of presenting St. Lucy's eyes on a gold plate, Mary MacArthur gives us what looks like the back of a hand mirror with the eyes peering out--an odd effect that looks like a small, surreal person gripped in Saint Lucy's hand. 

You can find out more about the young artist-illustrator here. Evidently she has illustrated several children's books.

In the literary world, Saint Lucia is probably most famous for her importance to Dante's The Divine Comedy. Why is she so meaningful to Dante? Light and poets ought to go together, certainly, especially when poets venture into dark places. Surely Dante desired light (a natural problem in earlier times), metaphysical and godly illumination, and also relief from the eyestrain he described in Convivio.

Wishing you light on St. Lucy's special day--and now I'm off to a celebration and dinner in her honor!

Thursday, December 07, 2017

The Seven Secrets Issue

The Rollipoke News, no. 5 is out today. And is jammed and crammed with secrets. I promised secrets to subscribers, and here they are. Enjoy, those of you who subscribe! (If you feel left out would like to subscribe, look at the right-hand column, near the top, for a Rollipoke sign-up.)

Most of the art above is by Clive Hicks-Jenkins. The camellia photo was taken by Mary Beth Kosowski. Thanks to many grand designers and publishers--Mary-Frances Glover Burt, Elizabeth Adams, Marc Jolley, Andrew Wakelin, Pete Crowther. Why these images? Books currently in print.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Phoenicia Publishing holiday newsletter and sale

Beautiful December newsletter--take a look and think about supporting a fine small press founded by Beth Adams. Small publishers need your love, your encouragement, and your financial support (that's a vote in favor of continued life for a small press) to do what they are doing. One-week holiday sale. I've pilfered a copy for anyone who might not be lucky enough to find one in their email or see a share on facebook or twitter. You can also see the original via MailChimp.


Here are a few suggestions of special books for holiday gift-giving -- or for yourself! Several are on sale for just one week, direct orders only. We also hope you'll visit our full catalogue this season, and give a gift that supports writers, artists, and independent publishing. Thank you so much for your interest and your purchases during past years!
"A nature poet in the great American tradition...and more than that."  -- Ama Bolton
Need a perfect Christmas present, for just $12.00? Dave Bonta's Ice Mountain: An Elegy, was one of three fiction/poetry finalists for the 2017 Banff Mountain Book Awards, and it's receiving glowing reviews from a wide variety of readers. On sale for the coming week, it's also a beautiful book, with illustrations any nature and art lover will enjoy -- some of which are available as original linocut prints, for a very affordable price.
Last December, I gave a copy of Thaliad to a friend. She ended up buying twelve more copies as gifts, and exclaimed over what an extraordinary work it is; she loved the overall design, the artwork by Clive Hicks-Jenkins, and most especially the story Marly Youmans tells in the form of an epic poem-novel for our time. Beautiful books with carefully wrought words and a timeless message are still sought out, because they are books that will last. Thaliad, a consistent Phoenicia bestseller, is available in both hardcover (on sale now) and paperback editions.
"Women rabbis have created poems that see God in a whole series of bold new images that we were not accustomed to seeing before." -- Rabbi Jack Riemer

"She is as young as our century and as old as Judaism." -- Gordon Atkinson
Jewish and Christian readers alike will appreciate the fresh insights and female perspective on the first five books of the Bible in acclaimed writer and rabbi Rachel Barenblat's 70 Faces: Torah Poems, Phoenicia's all-time bestselling book.
Limited Quantity! We're down to our last few copies of Annunciation, so please order early at a special sale price! This book of poetic responses by 16 interfaith and secular poets to the story of Mary has received wide acclaim for its broadly envisioned, thought-provoking words; beautiful design; and many linocut illustrations. It's a lovely and appropriate Christmas gift, and comes in an 8" x 10" softcover format. Several of the illustrations are also available as original linocut prints in our art shop.
View Full Catalogue
We'll be back in early 2018 with exciting news about Phoenicia's upcoming titles. But right now, we wish you a peaceful and joyful holiday season, and thank you once again for your support of independent publishing and the authors, artists and musicians we publish.
Elizabeth Adams, publisher

Manuscript critique

Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

Who will read my manuscript?
This little gang of editors and writers was formed especially for the people who write and ask me to critique their manuscripts, and for those who ask for recommendations on how to find an editor. I have done some manuscript critiques for others (particularly friends-of-friends and locals) in the past but don't have time to do that now.  I hope this collection of people who critique and edit will help if you are looking for feedback on a book manuscript or screenplay.

Genres, experience, expense
Most of the people on the list handle fiction and nonfiction, but some deal with YA, screenwriting, and poetry as well. My recommendation is that you look closely at the links; the editors are quite varied in experience and interests, and some of them might just feel like a fit for you. I expect there may be a range in the pesky matter of expense as well; I've listed fees where easily available. If this helps you narrow down to a few editors, please google them and see what else you can find.

When you read about someone who has worked in the publishing industry, see what they have edited. In the case of editors who are also published writers--as many here are--don't forget that you can often go to Amazon and read a portion of a book. Excerpts and reviews may be on other sites as well. Google is your friend. This is especially helpful with those who do not have a website. Most of the names here are based on a facebook query; if you want to look at the responses (some of which have personal recommendations and more information), they are here.

Recommendations, prose and poetry
I have included the novelist or poet who recommended each person, except when e-friends contacted me directly. Though I've focused on prose, there are a good many no-fee sites where you can share and discuss poems--perhaps the most rarefied being Eratosphere, which concentrates primarily on formal poetry.

Grow the list
Please feel free to add further names and information in the comments. I will be adding any others that come in via email and facebook. And if you use one of the editors, come back and leave a comment.

Thanks to Diane
Oh, and Diane Ducey deserves credit for writing a lovely letter that prompted me to make this list. Good luck to her!

About Mike Levine Editorial: here
Write Mike Levine on the MLE contact page: here
Recommended by poet and translator Alicia Stallings

jkershawcooper [at] aol [dot] com
About Jackie Cooper: here
Note: He will not review any book he critiques. (He reviews for Huffington Post.)
Fee for a novel critique: $400.

About Carey Wallace: here
theblindcontessa [at] gmail [dot] com
Fees worked out on a case by case basis.

silver [dot] graph [at] juno [dot] com
Laura has published novels and collections of stories
   and has worked as researcher, editor, and writer.

About Jen Violi: here
Write Jen on her contact page: here
Recommended by writer Alice Marks

About Peternelle Van Arsdale: here
peternelle [at] peternellevanarsdale [dot] com
YA, novel, fantasy
Recommend by novelist Jeff Giles

About Cindy Kane: here
Cindy [at]
Children's books and YA
Recommended by poet Julie Kane

Ink Stains Media: here
janetvan [at] gmail [dot] com

About Julie Scheina: here
julie [at] juliescheina [dot] com
Recommended by novelist April Lindner

About Neil Aitken's work with poets and writers: here
Contact page here
Recommended by poet Robbi Nester

Memoirs, self-help, fiction
About S. J. Hodges: here
Around $500 for a read with notes session, depending on length
She sends science and business mss. to LEIGH ANNE HIRSCHMAN
    at Hirschman Literary

About Margaret Diehl: here, here
margaret [dot] diehl [at] gmail [dot] com

About Karen Palmer: here
karenpalm [at] gmail [dot] com
Recommended by Margaret Diehl

About Melanie Bishop: here
leximelanie [at] gmail [dot] com
Recommended by Margaret Diehl

to be added
Recommended by Margaret Diehl

Thanks to novelist Emily Barton for more recommendations,
   though they turned out to be overbooked. How busy
   an editor is just might be something to consider as well.

The Manuscript Critique: "$695 for up to six months of mentoring."
Writer and professor Jessica Hooten Wilson suggested
   both IMAGE's book service and IOWA BOOK DOCTORS.
   I haven't found enough information on the latter, but feel free to investigate further!

"Anyone may submit passages of written work for group critiques."
Find other writers who want to swap manuscripts for comments at any stage...
Recommended by Kim Beall, who says she found a few trolls but also
   some helpful friends. (Kim just sold her first book.)

FREE CRITTERS is a free service for writers of sf/f/h, though you have to critique
   other pieces before you take a turn with your own. So you "pay" with your
   time and thoughts. I talked to someone who used the service, and he was
   enthusiastic about one critiquer out of five.

Thursday, November 30, 2017


I've been a mite busy with birthdays, Thanksgiving, and deadlines... Still am tilting crazily against some deadlines. And so this is just to let you know that Maze of Blood is again on sale at Amazon for a mere ten bucks. Don't know if it'll last--it didn't, the prior time.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Clive and Glimmerglass

Hop to the U.K. 
with Clive Hicks-Jenkins
(my jewel-minded Illuminator) 
on Glimmerglass.
Thank you to Clive and A Book a Day in Hay!

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Reads of the moment

Camille Paglia, Glittering Images: A Journey through Art from Egypt to Star Wars. (New York: Pantheon Books.) I read this aloud to my husband on our drive to my mother's house in western North Carolina in October and finished it up on the way back to our home in upstate New York. Some of her speculations are of the very sheerest, but it's a great read-aloud if you love art and don't care for the sterility and jargon of much arts criticism. Enthusiasm and respect for spiritual search inform the book. With the early works, the miracle of survival of ancient art and the admiration for the distinctive styles and crafts of shaping wielded by ancient, anonymous people are on Paglia's mind. And if you feel at all uncertain about the history of Modernism, she'll help you out in understanding how one sub-movement reacted to another. (And I must say that she managed to make me see Mondrian in an surprising new way--I had no real sense of what Mondrian thought that he was doing and found him surprisingly symbolic in his mode of conceiving and carrying out paintings.) I like and agree with her ideas of Warhol (or Mapplethorpe) as the dead-end of the avant garde, and I think those ideas translate well to what happened with poetry in the twentieth century, particularly when you look at how both painters pursuing realism and narrative and poets pursuing formal variety (including some ancient forms) and a widened subject matter are slowly gaining ground. Paglia insists (mightily!) on formulating her own thoughts without a whit of care for the winds and trends of culture in an era when academics tend to march together.

C. Day Lewis. The Poetic Image. 1946 Clark Lectures, Cambridge University. Still pertinent and well worth reading. Essays/lectures from someone who understands literary history and the Modernist place in it for good and for ill. "The Lyric Impulse" is a wonderful introductory piece. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole book, which is governed by the idea that human beings naturally seek to create and find harmony and orderliness in a world that is ever in flux, ever more various than we can compass. Highly recommended for those interested in song, ballad, and shapely poems.

Kingsley Amis, Lucky Jim. I read again after many decades and was surprised to find how well I remembered it, particularly the episode of the burned bedclothes and the "Merrie England" talk. The apex of the drunken address still reminded me of Fink-Nottle's, and antihero Jim Dixon of a sharper, much less hapless and sweet Bertie Wooster. After a stint in the British army, Kingsley Amis must have been out to break all the campus rules.... Is Dixon sometimes roiling with class rage, spite, boredom, maliciousness, immaturity, self-contempt, and an Amisian-Larkinesque view of women? Sure. He's an antihero all the way down. Here's Dixon in the morning: "Consciousness was upon him before he could get out of the way; not for him the slow, gracious wandering from the halls of sleep, but a summary, forcible ejection. He lay sprawled, too wicked to move, spewed up like a broken spider-crab on the tarry shingle of morning. The light did him harm, but not as much as looking at things did; he resolved, having done it once, never to move his eyeballs again. A dusty thudding in his head made the scene before him beat like a pulse. His mouth had been used as a latrine by some small creature of the night, and then as its mausoleum. During the night, too, he'd somehow been on a cross-country run and then been expertly beaten up by secret police. He felt bad.” Now I feel like rereading some Wodehouse and maybe The Loved One.

* * *

Here is the close of this post, written a day after Sayfullo Saipov, the man whose name means "Sword of Allah," mowed down bicyclists in Manhattan: "After hearing another New York round of generic responses and platitudes following the latest terrorist attack, I think we all need to send our politicians a well-written book or two. And maybe that should include a novel or two so they can begin to understand that not every human being thinks alike." But now that closing is already out of date, as we go on to the next massacre, alas.

* * *

I practice imaginative eliminativism about the category of entities known as "politicians." This is always a problem on election day.

* * *

Tonight I voted, and it was all so very Village of Cooperstown. First I walked with my husband to the Vets Club and had the traditional Rotary Club pancake dinner (with sausages from The Otesaga, mind you.) And I saw and chattered with all sorts of people I knew (including the former mayor, Carole) and was served by other people I knew (and the one I didn't know my husband knew and I promptly met.) Then we went a couple of blocks to the polling station, where I also saw lots of people I knew, voted for people I knew, hugged people I knew (especially Janet, whose birthday it was, and MaryAnne, who I hadn't seen in a long time), laughed with people I knew, received invitations from people I knew, and was asked if I was old enough to vote by somebody I knew (the sassy Rick, naturally.) So village-y. So lovely. So astonishingly NORMAN APPLE PIE AMERICA ROCKWELL! Okay, maybe not Norman Rockwell but pretty dear. Sometimes being a Southerner in Yankeedom is sweet. Yep.

And hey--it snowed. First flakes of the season. Pretty late, but I still resent it on principle. Southern principle.