News and Events: Week of February 23


Celia Bland, Simon Rock College gallery (Great Barrington, MA)
Tuesday, February 24
Celia will be speaking about and reading from her poetry/image collaboration with artist Dianne Kornberg, Madonna Comix.  The prints from “The Education of the Virgin” will be exhibited at the Simon’s Rock College gallery and the book will be featured.

Kevin Carey, Jabberwocky Bookstore (Newburyport, MA)
Wednesday, February 25 at 7:00pm
Poetry Soup

Karen Chase, Beyond Baroque (681 Venice Boulevard, Venice, CA)
Friday, February 27 at 8pm
Karen will be reading and signing Polio Boulevard

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Return by Loren Graham


Suddenly I craved recess from that noisy
house, from that pack, from much older cousins
and all those aunts and uncles, half a dozen
at a time who laughed at my teasing stories.
Their voices seemed to multiply and push me
outside somehow. I didn’t know the reason
exactly: it was not some new aversion
to them—I loved them—but to any company
at all. And so I learned to disappear
into the space beneath the ball-like bush
out front, to part its thick soft leaves and sheer
white flowers and rest in its green womb, to push
my spine against its barky spine, to peer
at my dog Elvis smiling in that hushed
cool world until a fresh
strange little tune made itself in my mind
and spilled out whispered on my lips, a kind
of story bound to steer
itself by song, a story I would tell
them all when I went back, whenever I fell
to wanting them, the spell
of silence undone by a little wash
of loneliness I knew would push me, force
me back to that packed house.


From Places I Was Dreaming
By Loren Graham


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From the Managing Editor: Submission Tips


Beginning March 1 and ending April 30, CavanKerry’s portals will be open to accept submissions from poets and memoirists. It is a hectic time in the lives of the staff. Along with continuing the ongoing work of the day-to-day operations, we anticipate reading hundreds of manuscripts from hopeful, hard-working writers.

It is a privilege to read the variety of work submitted by emerging and notable writers each year. Because each editor and publisher at CKP is also a writer, we are able to see the process of submitting work for possible publication from a writer’s view. But we are also editors and publishers managing a press, and proceed from that perspective during the open submissions period.

Some things for you to keep in mind as you place your work into our hands:

  • Know what CavanKerry publishes. Check our website. Look at our books. Talk to our authors. If what you write doesn’t fit, find a press that is a better venue for your work. You may have created a wonderful collection of poetry, or a fascinating memoir, but if it doesn’t fit our niche, it is better to submit where it does.
  • Follow directions. Our new process with Submittable gives quite specific directions about what you need to send. Going above and beyond, and trying anything to catch an editor’s eye is always a temptation. Following directions and submitting your best work will catch our eye in a positive way.
  • We know how hard it is to wait. Our submissions page gives the time frame in which we generally respond to your work. Most of the time we respond long before the time frame allowed. Please don’t contact us; we will notify you in a timely manner.
  • Make sure your work is error free. It is very disheartening to read a manuscript filled with typos, punctuation errors, and spelling mistakes. Your work – and its clean polished presentation – reflects positively on you.

If accepted, know that your words will be handled with all the care we can give them. It is important to us to be as good to our writers as we are to our readers. If not accepted, know that we have read and discussed your work with care as well. We encourage you to keep putting your words out there.

-Starr Troup, Managing Editor

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News and Events: Week of February 9th


Celia Bland has recent poems in the current issues of Red Wheelbarrow and Lux.  Her poem “Revolutions Per Minute,” from Red Wheelbarrow, has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.


Richard Jeffrey Newman, The Astoria Bookshop (31-29 31st Street, Astoria NY 11106)
Thursday, February 12th, 7-9 PM
Richard will be taking part in the Boundless Tales Reading Series



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Book Press Release: Places I Was Dreaming




Poems by
Loren Graham

A singular childhood experience—rural, poor, often precarious—is at the center of PLACES I WAS DREAMING (CavanKerry Press; February 2015; $16.00, paperback), an autobiographical sequence of poems by Loren Graham. And yet, these snapshots—alternately poignant and comic—exquisitely evoke universal truths about growing up, about family, and about the place where we originate. “Loren Graham may have grown up poor in Broken Arrow, Okla.,” says the Helena Independent Record, “but his was a childhood rich in stories and memories. And it is the colorful characters and vivid language of his past that inspire his critically acclaimed poetry.”

Central to these poems is the art of storytelling, an oral tradition that informs this rural boy’s everyday experience—in the kitchen, in the fields, in the classroom. Graham crafts a unique technique of overlapping voices in some poems, at times capturing the joyful cacophony of family gatherings, other times countering what’s said with what is left in the mind unsaid.  It is this ancient art form that sustains the boy, and his large, extended family—through tornados, through winter, through hardscrabble poverty—and serves as a shield against a sometimes incomprehensible, unfeeling outside world.

The poet as child struggles with his status as a “Country Boy,” mocked by classmates and condescended to by teachers:

Country boy: their leader chanted it, dropping
his tongue to the floor of his mouth to mock
my accent and make it obscene, cuntra boa,
cuntra boa, until I learned that words could make me

obscene, till I calculated daily whether I had the strength,
if I caught him off guard, to slam his face
into the metal bar on the back of the bus seat,
to pay him for those weights, that name that was my fall.

He feels the weight of their scorn as he waits in line with his “high-hoping/and sober father” for sacks of free beans and cornmeal, endures his teacher’s correcting the way he speaks, refuses to wash his hands in the smelly water of the school cafeteria fountain. But the truth is more complicated. The boy’s parents harbor hopes that their intelligent son will stay in school and break out of the cycle of poverty that has trapped them: “Your job is to show us/what we all coulda been/if we’d a-knowed what to do.” In the affecting “Episode of the Encyclopedia Salesman,” the parents make the unimaginable financial sacrifice to buy a set of Collier’s for their son:

The room got quiet.
I waited for Uncle Fred to say something like Hell,
if he reads all them, he’ll be purt near smart as me.
But the silence held, a first in that house,
so I just mumbled Yessir, I spect I could,

as though I had no idea, even at seven,
of what my yessir meant to everyone present:
another month of beans, less coal for the fire,
my father’s spending his winter evenings with a drop light
in the unheated barn he used for a garage—
the real price of privilege, its great black bulk.

Still, there is much joy, too, to be found in the poems—memories of a rustic childhood spent attuned to nature and the changing seasons, wonder-filled nights looking at the stars, the rhythmic, “tinny sounds of the first streams of milk/to hit the galvanized bucket.” “Through the perspective of a seemingly personal, but private, persona, Graham traces the formative stages in the life of a boy growing up in the depressed and depressing environment of the American southwest in the late twentieth century and of finding himself in places he was dreaming,” says William V. Davis. “These are themes and poems that will resonate with many readers.”


About Loren Graham

Loren Graham was raised in and around Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.  He studied as a writer and composer at Oklahoma Baptist University, and he earned an MA in English from Baylor University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Virginia.  He received a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in 2009 for poems that became part of Places I Was Dreaming. He currently lives in Helena, Montana, with his wife, Jane Shawn.


Publication Date: February 2015
Price: $16.00; ISBN: 978-1-933880-45-7

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No Solitary Genius by Brent Newsom

In Track a Book, we follow one manuscript’s journey from creation to publication.  This monthly series will look at Brent Newsom’s upcoming CavanKerry release Love’s Labors, which is scheduled for release in April 2015.


We probably have Byron to thank for the myth of the solitary creative genius. He (traditionally the genius is a he) is dark, brooding, militantly independent, radically resistant to the social pressure to conform, and out of this rugged, idiosyncratic, emotionally complicated individual emanate (if he doesn’t die first) works of artistic brilliance and depth mere mortals can only analyze in term papers. We’re all familiar with him in one form or another.

Literary critics like Roland Barthes have been calling “bull” on the idea of privileged, solitary authorship for half a century, though. A work of literature, one strain of the argument goes, is always the product of many influences, and usually results from the efforts of many people aside from the “author.” Editors, for instance.

Paradoxically, most good editors do their best to stay out of a writer’s way. Their goal isn’t to inject their own vision into the project but to enable the writer’s vision to come to fruition (the case of Raymond Carver and his editor Gordon Lish notwithstanding). In bringing Love’s Labors to print, I have been fortunate to work with editors of just this kind. Starr Troup, Managing Editor of CavanKerry Press, has gently shepherded the book from one editorial reading to another. It’s humbling, honoring, and a little frightening to have multiple readers (who are accomplished poets themselves) combing through my work, drawing attention to the occasional weak line or false note. But the result is undoubtedly a stronger book.

Writers and artists certainly need solitude to do their work, but they also need community—the kind of relationships that nurture creativity and that last year led a writer in the New York Times Book Review to declare “The End of ‘Genius.’” Art-making, he points out, is often as collaborative as it is solitary, frequently evident in pairs of artists who influence each other: C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot, John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

Numerous people helped me, in one way or another, arrive at the collection of poems that is Love’s Labors. Family, friends, classmates, professors. I’ll save the list (a partial one, no doubt) for the acknowledgments page. But working with the CavanKerry Press editorial team has distilled that notion of creative community into a months-long collaborative process, a process that reinforces my sense of self in two important ways: I am not a genius. And I am not alone.

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News and Events: Week of February 2nd


Celia Bland & Dianne Kornberg
Selected images and poems from Madonna Comix are featured in the current issue of Drunken Boat


Carole Stone 
Monday, February 2nd at 6pm
Carole will present her poetry at La Ceiba Art Show in Zihuatanejo, Mexico

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“Primary Lessons” featured in hometown paper

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An Invitation to Poetry in Art by Jean Kanzinger

Grey Days

As an English undergrad, I was an obsessed fan of William Blake. And, let’s be honest, it wasn’t just the poems. Blake’s illustrations and the mythology that connected words and images fascinated me. During an Early Romanticism class, I was so eager to incorporate Blake’s images into poetry explication that I lobbied to be permitted to include imagery from the paintings into a paper on several works from Songs of Innocence and Experience. My indulgent professor, a poet himself, showed me how to cite images and include them in an appendix to my analysis. I was still working with a typewriter in those days, so copying and pasting the images actually involved photocopying, cutting, and then gluing them onto a master document. I poured endless hours into that paper. When I turned the paper in, I paid for color copies because I couldn’t fathom loving them if reduced to black and white. For me, the Blake essay initiated a marriage of poetry and art in my life.

In the spring of 2012, Kathleen Riley, my daughter’s fifth grade art teacher at Chagrin Falls Intermediate School, asked me about my trip to The Frost Place Conference on Poetry & Teaching in Franconia, NH. Before our conversation ended, she invited me to co-teach a lesson incorporating poetry into an art lesson with all of her fifth graders.

I would be given one class period, about 50 minutes, with each of her 8 fifth grade classes. She prepared a lesson based on Rene Magritte’s “The False Mirror.” Students would design their own eye using imagery inspired by a poem they’d write during my lesson. After having worked with Kindergarteners on a poetry unit for several years, fifth graders would be the first group old enough for me to use the dictation as described by Wormser & Capella in A Surge of Language.

The memorable and valuable parts of the lesson for me were the insights the fifth graders brought to a single poem in just a few minutes.

First, in order to demonstrate an easy connection between art and poetry, I displayed the words to William Carlos Williams’ “The Great Figure” and displayed a poster-of Charles Demuth’s “The Figure Five in Gold” which was inspired by the Williams poem.

With the poem and the painting side-by-side, students pointed out similarities. I’ve taught this painting and poem in Kindergarten and know that we could have spent the entire class period on just these two works, but our focus is on a different Williams poem, so this comparison lasted only 10 minutes.

Next, with only paper and pencil on their desks, students listened to and wrote the words to “The Red Wheelbarrow” by William Carlos Williams which I dictated beginning with the title. I read slowly, pausing as necessary to allow each student to write every word and bit of punctuation correctly. I explained which words began with capital letters, where space existed between lines, the location of each line break, etc. Students asked for words to be repeated or spelled. One student even checked to make sure I hadn’t forgotten to tell them about capital letters in the body of the poem. This slow and deliberate process continued until everyone had written the poem correctly.

The Red Wheelbarrow (1923)
by William Carlos Williams

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

Next, I asked, “What do you notice?” I repeated this question many times as we collected observations. In no particular order, the fifth graders noticed the following things about the poem:

  1. Including the title, there are 19 words. They are surprised how short this poem is.
  2. There are four groups of 2 lines.
    1. The first line always contains three words.
    2. The second line always contains one word. Later they noticed that the single word always has two syllables.
  3. There are two colors named in the poem: red and white.
  4. There are no capital letters except in the title. One student suggested that the capital letter in the title might be the beginning of the sentence. They took turns reading it aloud as if the whole thing was a single sentence beginning with the title. I loved this since it brought the title into focus for us.

Soccer Ball Poem(1)

Next, I asked them to tell me which word they thought was the most important word in the poem and why. I heard lots of answers. I actually want many answers because this reinforces the importance of every word in a poem. For the purpose of our lesson, I kept asking for important words to assure that I got the word depends. This was the focus word for their own poem. A few words they considered important and the reasons they provided for each:

  1. red- They told me that this word appears twice, so it must be the most important word.
  2. wheelbarrow – This word also appears twice. It is also the subject of the poem and the biggest object named. When they picture the poem, they said started with an image of the wheelbarrow.
  3. chickens – This word is important because it represents the only living thing mentioned in the poem. When I dictated this poem, nearly every class giggled when they heard this word. They weren’t expecting the word chickens and it sounded funny to them.
  4. depends – Some classes come to this word earlier than others. All of them told me it’s the verb in this poem. They also told me, somewhat awkwardly at times, that depends shows that the wheelbarrow is important for “so much” and that “to depend” means “to rely.”

The next part of our discussion comes about in different ways. In some classes, a student noticed that “wheelbarrow” was written as a single word in the title, but as two words in the poem. Other times I ask about it.

“Why is wheelbarrow written two different ways in the poem? Do you think the poet forgot how to write the word?” They laugh and shake their heads. For all the talk about how intentional the words in poems are, the idea that this poet might have forgotten how to write a key word in his own poem sounds absurd. “Well, if we all agree it’s not an accident,” I continue, “then why would he have written the word two different ways?”

The answers are varied. One person suggests that the poet doesn’t care about things like that. Another thinks he made it up just to continue the one-word line after a three-word line. They’ve heard me call poets “wordsmiths,” so in each class there was a moment when someone would suddenly ask, “Could barrow be a word?” Using the Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, we find the entry. The standard school dictionaries – print or online – weren’t robust enough to list barrow, so they are shocked that there are so many definitions listed in the OED. When we get to the third definition, there is a little excitement. Barrow is “a mound of earth or stone erected in early times over a grave; a grave-mound, a tumulus.”

“Oh,” one student announced, “that’s what depends on the wheelbarrow – burying the dead. Wow.” Fellow fifth-graders are excited by this possibility. They discovered something about the poem that was not obvious to them when we began. Again, the message is that every word matters. Words that feel out of place or unfamiliar are worth investigation. Students question word choice and demonstrate a curiosity about words.

I always love watching how curiosity about a word awakens in one or just a few children and then spreads quickly to include everyone. They brainstormed all the things in the scene that would depend on that wheelbarrow and list everything from hauling feed for the chickens to moving earth for a grave. So much really does depend on that red wheelbarrow!

SummerNow that they have a better understanding of what “depends,” students spend time drafting their own poem about something important to them. The art teacher has them think about the imagery in the next art project. They’ll draw their own eye and illustrate it with the important thing that “so much depends upon” from their poem. They can use a template or free write their poem. The template borrows the first two lines from “The Red Wheelbarrow.” Sometimes those lines remain even in the final draft.

It’s been nearly two years since Kathleen Riley, now retired, invited me to bring poetry into her class. I am so grateful that she welcomed poetry as a natural companion to art in her classes.

A lesson plan, handouts, additional resources, and sample student work is posted at this LiveBinder: .

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PRESS RELEASE: The Frost Place Continues Partnership with CavanKerry Press in 2015

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January 20, 2015 – The Frost Place is pleased to announce the continued partnership with publisher CavanKerry Press in 2015. Since 2012, The Frost Place has partnered with CavanKerry Press to enhance the annual June conference benefitting teachers of all levels.

Held each year in June, the Conference on Poetry and Teaching is a unique opportunity for teachers to work closely with their peers and with a team of illustrious poets who have particular expertise in working with teachers at all levels. Over the course of 4½ days, faculty poets share specific, hands-on techniques for teaching poetry. The emphasis is on the reading-conversation- writing-revision cycle, and our teaching approach aligns with the Common Core anchor standards for reading and writing.

Founded in 2000, CavanKerry Press is a not-for-profit literary press dedicated to art and community. Based in New Jersey, their mission is to expand the reach of poetry to a general readership by publishing poets whose works explore the emotional and psychological landscapes of everyday life. To date they have published 73 works from emerging and established writers and have initiated outreach efforts that include thousands of donated titles to numerous organizations, Poetry Heals workshops for medical personnel, and a partnership with New Jersey Poetry Out Loud.  For more information visit

CavanKerry’s Publisher Joan Cusack Handler said, “We are thrilled to continue our support of this scholarship to The Frost Place Conference on Poetry and Teaching. We believe in supporting important community programs such as New Jersey Poetry Out Loud. We believe in supporting teachers. This scholarship allows us to do both of those things.”

The scholarship is given annually to the teacher of the student winner of the New Jersey Poetry Out Loud contest. The teacher receives a full fellowship to attend The Frost Place’s Conference on Poetry and Teaching, which includes lodging and meals. Poetry Out Loud is a national poetry recitation contest program supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation. It encourages the nation’s youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and recitation. This program helps students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage.

In addition to the annual scholarship, this year CavanKerry Press is offering discounts on their titles specifically for teachers. This is a great opportunity for teachers to have access to contemporary work to share with students in their classrooms.

To apply to The Frost Place’s Conference on Poetry and Teaching, or to learn more about other opportunities at The Frost Place, please visit:, call: 603-823-5510, or email:


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