Category Archives: poetry

Best Books of Indiana 2012

cover image of And Know This Place: Poetry of IndianaSome happy poetry news to report this weekend. The lovely anthology And Know This Place: Poetry of Indiana (edited by the indefatigable Jenny Kander and C.E. Greer), which includes my poems “Brood X” and “Eight-Bar Solo,” was named as the “Best Book of Indiana 2012” in the poetry category. These annual awards are given by the Indiana Center for the Book in the Indiana State Library. Here’s what the judges had to say about the book:

And Know This Place: Poetry of Indiana is a wonderful volume, richly produced, with gorgeous cover art and a fitting allusion to T. S. Eliot in its title. The book is outstanding as a comprehensive anthology of the best and most important of Indiana poetry through the generations. The editors, Jenny Kander and C. E. Greer, have done a magnificent job of selecting representative works of all the poets, and the foreword by Roger Mitchell is exceedingly informative and accessible. The variety of styles, drawing from the full historical corpus of poetry in the Hoosier state, is extremely impressive, offering something for every imaginable taste. As an encapsulation of an essential part our state’s literary history, this book is deserving of a place of honor in the personal library of any lover of things either poetic or Hoosier. As a resource for connoisseur or novice, it would be well placed on a bookshelf next to Czeslaw Milosz’z A Book of Luminous Things and Garrison Keillor’s Good Poems.

Needless to say, I am delighted that my work is a small part of this fantastic (and now award-winning) volume, which was published by the Indiana Historical Society and can be ordered directly from them should you be so inclined. (It’s a gorgeous, substantial book. Feels nice in the hand. Go on, give yourself a present!)

You can see a list of the winners and finalists in all categories at the Indiana State Library’s website. And if you are an Indiana resident, you can borrow any of them from the State Library or even request them via interlibrary loan through your local public library! Libraries are cool, y0.

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A poem and a New Year toast.

A video post from me to you on this New Year’s Eve. What can I say – I’m having a quiet evening & wanted to play with the new tablet. 🙂 I look like a goof, but that’s par for the course around here. Happy New Year! P.S. the poem I read in this video is by Gregory Orr.

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Bits o’good news

Cat playing with writing pen

Tamarin helps me write.

I always feel weird announcing good news online, but then when other folks announce their good news I’m happy for them and glad to know about it, so.

I’m pleased and grateful that the editors of Sweet have nominated my poem “Night Language” for the Pushcart Prize. From their Facebook page:

Sweet is honored to nominate some of the amazing pieces we published in 2012 for the Pushcart Prize (the only hard part was deciding amongst all the terrific work): Laura McCullough, “What a Good Dog Knows” (essay); Jocelyn Bartkevicius, “Ice” (essay); Liz Kicak, “Summer Sky” (poem); Anne Haines, “Night Language” (poem); Todd Kaneko, “We Sleep Like Horses” (poem); Jennifer K. Sweeney, “Call and Response” (poem). Much thanks to everyone for sharing their mind-blowing writing with us, and for carrying the light of words out into the world.

Don’t get too excited; hundreds of poems get these nominations every year and only a few are selected for the anthology – the odds of that are very long indeed. But it is nice to find out that your poem was one of the ones that not only appealed to an editor enough for them to want other people to read it, but that also stuck in their memory at the end of the year. So yay, and thank you to Sweet!

Also got word today that New Mexico Poetry Review has accepted one of my poems for their spring issue. Always fun to have something to look forward to, and always nice to get a “yes” instead of the more usual “no”!

I don’t post about the rejections when I get them, but trust me, I get my share. After all these years, I don’t mind them much – there’s the occasional one that makes me say “awwww, man!” but beyond that, it is just not a big deal. If you send out work long enough, you begin to realize that the editors aren’t rejecting you personally, but the work itself. (And even then, there can be a billion reasons why they don’t take a particular poem; it doesn’t mean it’s a terrible poem – I’ve had editors enthusiastically accept poems that had been rejected a dozen or more times. It might mean the editor had read sixteen volcano poems that afternoon and yours was the seventeenth and they couldn’t get past “good grief, not another volcano poem.” It might mean one of your line breaks struck them wrong and they couldn’t get past that. Or, you know, it might even be a terrible poem – there’s not a poet alive who hasn’t written tons of those and most of us occasionally get confused about which ones are good and which ones aren’t!)

And I think being able to get that distance – realizing that your work is not your self – is crucial to maturing as a writer. Yes, your work comes from a deep place within yourself. But it also comes from craft, and time, and labor, and luck. And the fact that all of those ingredients don’t gel every time doesn’t necessarily make you a bad writer, much less a bad person.

You can call it “developing a thick skin” or you can call it “distancing yourself from your work” – in any event I think it’s good for a writer to figure out how to do this. It can mean the difference between being a writer who feels she has to pour out her soul onto the page every time and then not change a word because “that’s just the way it happened!”, and being a writer who uses her heart and her skill and her craft and her experience to make a thing that can be sent out into the world on its own merits.

Now if only my poems would go out and get a job. And maybe cut their hair and stop wearing those ripped-out jeans all the time….


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Reading reminder & silent auction

October trees in Brown County

October trees – Brown County, Indiana

For those of you who are local-ish to Bloomington, just a reminder that I will be reading TONIGHT at City Hall, along with Shana Ritter, Doris Lynch, and Sue Swartz. Details are in my post from a few days ago.

I spent this evening, while watching Twitter updates about what was evidently an incredibly good Springsteen show in Hartford, going through poems – reading a bunch of them to see which ones seem right together, reading them aloud a couple of times to practice and to time them, planning a setlist. I think that I will read four poems in the main set: Exhume (a creepy poem that feels appropriate for the end of October), Opening the Hive (a vaguely Sylvia Plath-inspired poem in honor of the Plath Symposium on campus this week), The Simple Math of Breathing (a nice uplifting sort of thing), and In Praise of Cheesy (which will hopefully end my short set with a smile). In case we have enough time to do a second quick read-around, I have a few extras picked out too, including one I’d entirely forgotten about until tonight.

Whether or not you’re able to get to the reading, here’s something to check out – the Bloomington Writers’ Guild is hosting a silent auction as a fundraiser (they need money to pay the filing fee to get non-profit status). Up for bidding are books and chapbooks by local Bloomington writers, including yours truly, and a couple of CDs by local musicians as well. Bidding will open at 6:00 pm EDT today (Friday, 10/26) and closes on Monday, October 29 at 6:00 pm – that’s not much time, so if you’re interested, make sure you check it out! You can view items and place your bids at

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Poetry at City Hall

Photo of Anne Haines, Sue Swartz, Doris Jean Lynch, and Shana Ritter

Clockwise from top: Anne Haines, Doris Jean Lynch, Shana Ritter, Sue Swartz

This coming Friday evening – my first poetry reading in quite a while! I’ll be reading some older stuff and some newer(ish) stuff – I haven’t sketched out a setlist yet, so who knows, I might throw in “Queen of the Supermarket.” 😉 (that’s an in-joke for my Springsteen pals) We’ll be reading for a fairly long stretch before taking a break, so I’ll probably aim for the lighter, less focused-attention-demanding material.

I’m pleased to be reading with three other poets who’ve also received Individual Artist Grants from the Indiana Arts Commission: Doris Lynch (who’s also a librarian at the local public library – yay, librarian poets!), Shana Ritter (who I’ve known for ages; she was a member of Source: Women Writers, a group I started in the mid-eighties and which met regularly for many years) and Sue Swartz. All three are terrific poets, so it should be a fun evening.

The reading is also planned to promote & celebrate the Bloomington Writers’ Guild, a relatively new addition to the local literary community.  In conjunction, there will be an online auction of books and CDs by local Bloomington writers and artists. You’ll have to act fast; the auction opens at 6 pm Friday evening and closes the following Monday. I’ll try to post a link to the auction site, but it should be available from the Writers’ Guild website once the auction is live.

Now I just have to figure out what to read and, more importantly, what to wear….


Poetry at City Hall: In celebration of the Bloomington Writers’ Guild and the Indiana Arts Commission. With readings by local IAC Individual Artist Program grant recipients: Anne Haines, Doris Jean Lynch, Shana Ritter, and Sue Swartz. There will be poetry, mingling and meeting, and sweets from Sweet Claire Gourmet Bakery. For more information see the Writers Guild website:

Friday, October 26, 2012 :: 7:00 – 8:30 pm :: City Hall Atrium, 401 N. Morton St., Bloomington, Indiana

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New review

I’m sure it is probably tacky to call people’s attention to favorable reviews of my work, but it’s not like it happens often (when you’re a poet reviews don’t happen often, period, much less favorable ones). I will admit that it kinda made my day to find that New Pages had reviewed the most recent issue of Sweet which includes some of my work, and not only that, but the review actually spotlights a couple of my poems. Pretty cool, even if the reviewer did misspell “chord.” (Did I just review the review? Whoa. Meta.)

Anyway, you can read the review over at New Pages if you’re so inclined.

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Poetry update: Sweet, Diode

In the good news department:

  • I have three poems in the new issue of Sweet – stop by and check them out if you are so inclined! Many thanks to Katie Riegel and the rest of the staff of this lovely online journal.
  • Speaking of lovely online journals, I am exceptionally pleased that one of my favorites, diode, has nominated my poem “Earthquake Weather” for Sundress Publications’ annual “Best of the Net” anthology. I’m in great company; you can see the list of nominees on Facebook. Many thanks to Patty Paine and the rest of the staff at diode!

Went to the local farmers’ market this morning to meet up with the other poets I’ll be reading with on October 26 – Shana Ritter, Dory Lynch, and Sue Swartz – to do some publicity photos. It was an absolutely gorgeous day! More on this reading soon.

A busy week and a half coming up for me, musically speaking: Richard Thompson, next weekend’s Lotus Festival, and Ani DiFranco. Fun times, fun times.

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