Monday, November 19, 2012

Another Journal You Should Read

Here's another journal you need to read:

Not only does Mead publish award-winning, as well as emerging, authors and poets, it's a fun place to hang out, have a virtual drink, and swap stories. Besides, one of my poet friends (Paul Scot August) has a new poem up you should check out ("Burnham's Island, Prairie Lake").

Stop by, put your feet up, throw one back, and enjoy the poems and stories.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Journals Under the Radar that You Will Want To Read

I'm revitalizing this blog. And what better way than by serving its faithful readers with links to journals somewhat under the radar (depending upon whose radar you are using), that you will want to read (and possibly submit to).

Here are five journals I've recently come across that publish excellent stories and poems--places I would be proud to see my work, that you probably won't find listed in Best American Poetry or Best American Short Stories--YET!

Organs of Vision and Speech Magazine

The Citron Review:

THIS Literary Magazine

The Portland Review:

The Blue Lake Review


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Trio House Press Contest Submission Period Now Open!

I can't believe it's been a year since Trio House Press opened its contest submission period. Now it's time again to submit to "The Trio Award" (for poets who have not published more than one full-length book) and/or to "The Louise Bogan Award" (for all poets writing in the English language--no matter how many books they have or have not published).

Here is the link to THP's website, with all of the guidelines and information you need in order to submit!

The judges this year are Mihaela Moscaliuc (Trio Award) and Joan Houlihan (Louise Bogan Award)--both fantastic poets in their own right.

And congratulations to our first two prize winners: Iris Dunkle (Trio Award) for "Gold Passage" and David Groff (Louise Bogan Award) for "Clay." Both books will be out around the first of the year.

Also, congratulations to Matt Mauch for his manuscript, "If You're Lucky Is A Theory Of Mine," selected by the editors of THP in the summer open submission period. Matt's book will be out soon, as well.

Ok, now let's get those manuscripts submitted!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Terry Lucas' New & Upcoming Work

In case any readers want to check out my work, I have new poems online in MiPOesias (Fall, 2012) and 200NewMexicoPoems.

In print, I have work in the current issues of New Mexico Poetry Review (Winter 2012), and Naugatuck River Review (Winter, 2012).

I also have upcoming work in Best New Poets 2012 (available December 6), Great River Review and Sin Fronteras/Writers Without Borders, (both available Spring 2013).

A more complete listing of online work is available in my profile on my blog, "The Widening Spell" (

Thanks for all for your support!

Terry Lucas

Monday, July 16, 2012

Tassajara Writing Retreat

For the next four days I'll be at Tassajara Zen Center in the Carmel Valley. There's a poetry workshop in progress, but my domestic partner and I will be doing "our own thing" (without computer/cell phone access), which will consist of sitting in water, sitting in sun (hopefully), reading, writing, and the normal (depending upon the range of your bell curve) things romantic partners do on vacation in a secluded, wilderness retreat environment.

There are no electrical outlets in our rooms, so I will either have to write with pen/paper, or pay $10/night to have my computer charged up in the office. In case that system fails, I printed out lots of beginnings of poems to flesh out, as well as some completed drafts to edit. I also brought books by favorite poets/authors to prime the pump: Michael Waters, Alicia Ostriker, Michael Ryan, Kim Addonizio, Dorianne Laux, Yusef Komunyakaa, Dawn McGuire--the latter, a new addition to the pantheon.

Mainly, I brought a new perspective, fueled by a fresh environment, 4 days of no responsibilities except to let my imagination rule--

I'll let you know how it went...

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Healing Art of Writing

There's a conference going on right now (July 8-14) at Dominican University is San Rafael, CA, that if you're anywhere near, you must attend the events open to the public. The Healing Art of Writing--building bridges between patients and caregivers through the written word is sponsored by Dominican University of California, The Foundation for the Humanities in Medicine and Perspectives in Medical Humanities, UCSF.

Here is the remaining schedule open to the public (A token $10 contribution is requested at the refreshment table for guests).


Afternoon Talks in The Creekside Room

Tuesday, July 10 (3-5pm) The Creekside

David Watts, MD: "Writing Two Sides of Consciousness"

Nina Schuyler, JD, MFA: "Creating Dynamic Characters"

Thursday July 12 (3-5pm) The Creekside

Dawn McGuire, MD: "Eat, Sleep, Neurology"

Marilyn Krysl, MFA: "Sacred and Profane: The Sestina as Rite"

Friday, July 13 (2-4pm) The Creekside

Julianna Waters: Heart and Hammer performs "Medicine Song"

John Fox, CPT: "The Precious Word Within: The Potential for Poetry to Heal the Heart"

EVENING READINGS and Documentary Screening
Mon, Tues, Thurs, 7-8 pm; Wed 7-9 pm in The Creekside Room

Faculty members will read from their own work, highlighting poems and stories that reflect the conference theme. On Wednesday night participants are invited to a premier screening of the documentary The Time We Have: The Caitlin Dolaghan Story, about a young woman's battle against osteo-sarcoma and how poetry writing carried her through the last year of her life.

Tuesday: John Fox, Molly Giles, and Alicia Ostriker

Wednesday: Documentary Screening of The Time We Have

Thursday: Dawn McGuire and Joan Baranow


Yesterday I attended Alicia Ostriker's talk entitled "Eros and Metaphor, or, Why Metaphor Isn't Just a Band-Aid." Terrific stuff! Come to find out, metaphor is a whole lot more than we thought: "Metaphor," according to Ostriker (and she should know, being a narrative-lyrical poet for half a century now), "is a sign of love--[it's] what language uses to show that the world is full of connections." After a delightful exegesis of how metaphor accomplishes the act of finding "intuitive similarity in dissimilars," Ostriker delved into how the process of discovering the right metaphors works for her in her poetry. She then read two poems from her "Masectomy Series" that illustrate the connections already inherent in her body and the larger world. Tremendously informative, but even more inspirational!

I also stayed for Molly Giles' talk on endings--a delightful romp through well-known and lesser-known endings of short stories and novels of our time. Afterwards, I told her that even though I was a poet, she had motivated me to go write some fiction--which pleased her very much. I can't wait to hear her read her own work tomorrow night--along with Alicia's world-class poetry.

If you have plans that conflict with these talks and readings--cancel them! The topic is too important, and the writers presenting are too exceptional to miss them. Imagine how long you're going to be dead, and then live this week to its fullest by joining me at all of the remaining events open to the public during this fantastic writer's conference.

Oh yes--don't forget to hear Joan Baranow on Thursday night. I had the pleasure of reading with her a couple of weeks ago--I had not known her or her work prior. She is a top-notch poet who happens to be head of the English Dept. at Domincan. She's also the wife of David Watts, with whom she has produced Healing Words, the stories of patients whose lives have been dramatically changed as a result of Dr. John Graham-Ple and poetry therapist John Fox's incorporation of poetry into their recovery process.

I'm so sorry I didn't post about this conference sooner--but it's not too late to catch most of it. See you there!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Trio House Press Open Reading Period July 1-July 31

Trio House Press is open for submissions of full-length poetry manuscripts (48-70 pp.) during our open reading period, July 1-July 31. Poets whose manuscripts are selected must serve as Collective Members of Trio House Press for a period of twenty-four months.

All submissions are through Submittable, accessed through our website ( between July 1 and July 31. Please include a detailed cover letter, approximately two pages in length, with bio, publication history and marketing plan at the beginning of the file in front of your manuscript. Open reading fee is $20.

Editor's note: the THP website can be accessed through the link in the right-hand column.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Change to Post-Poetry MFA

Hi everyone. "Seasons change and so do I" is a familiar lyric. It's true with love and it's true with poetry websites. Effective immediately, I am shutting down the section of Post-Poetry MFA. The monthly cost of maintaining it is not commensurate with its use. Besides, after 4 years, it seems that we have all moved on to other ways of maintaining our connections and support as writers.

I will continue to maintain this blog under the same name. The community web-page, however, will no longer be operative.

Stay tuned for more regular updates on this blog, and thanks for four years of sharing.

Keep writing!

Warm Regards,


Monday, April 9, 2012

The Best of AWP: Putting Together Your First Book

AWP Denver was a transformative experience. Last year's AWP in Chicago was my first and, like so many others, I spent most of my time trying to get to all of the panel discussions whose titles fascinated me, in order not to miss anything relevant. The problem was I ended up skimming the surface. This year I decided to spend more quality time in the book fair, connecting with my writing community, and attending only a few of the panels that spoke to my primary writing goals for the year. This strategy proved itself useful. During the next few days, I will post a series of blogs on topics related to the post mfa experience. The first of these is based upon the recent panel discussion entitled "The 25th Poem: Putting Together Your First Book."

Dan Albergotti led off the panel. I had read his impressive The Boatloads, winner of the A. Poulin Jr. Poetry Prize (2008), and was anxious to hear what Dan had to say. He had to say a lot, and I found his points some of the most helpful of the entire week.

He began by asking the audience of around 300 for a show of hands on how many of us had sent out our first manuscripts. Approximately 90% of us had. Then he asked how many had spent at least $100 in contest fees. The number went down to around half. $200? A fourth. $300 or more? About 10%. I still had my hand high in the air and was amazed that we had lost most of our fellow-writers. Dan went on the relate the story of Spencer Reece sending out his first manuscript (The Clerk's Tale) for nineteen years without any recognition. Dan dramatized the process by counting off on his fingers while repeating the litany of "rejected, rejected, rejected, etc." eighteen times and then "winner of the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference Bakeless Prize." I thought, "What if he'd stopped sending out his manuscript after a couple of years? Ten? Eighteen?!?"

Then Dan shared two things that gave me a shot of confidence about my manuscript, as well as a way of evaluating it for further revision. First, he said that I would get my manuscript published if I did three things. Since I'm a sucker for lists, He had my attention. Here they are:

1) If your work is at the center of what you are thinking about.
2) If you believe in your work.
3) If you are persistent.

Ok, I've heard (and believed) the last two points for so long that they barely registered in the richter scale, and not a single picture on the wall tilted, not a single chandelier swayed. But #1!!! I'd heard "embrace your obsessions" as a mantra for writing success. But I'd never heard of evaluating your work by how central it is to your thought process, translated, your life. In the words of "Meteorite Men," I had found my first hammer rock from deep space, crashing into my house, and waking me up.

The other thing that Dan said was that "Sections are your friends." In other words, think of your manuscript in pieces. If we have chapbooks, he said, we should study them. Don't think about writing a book, but think about assembling pieces we already have. I liked that. It reminded me of putting together legos--concentrate on making sense of small collections, and then see how they might fit together.

Other good helpful ideas that Dan shared:

1) Think outside of literature to the other arts for assembling your work. Examples: spatial organization, music, ritual, litergy.
2) Think about the value of refrain.
3) Write every poem to honor the poem (not to flesh out the book).
4) Honor your obsessions.
5) For contests, put your best poems in front, in order to get them read by the final judge. You can rearrange them to your liking later, if your manuscript wins.

The next speaker was Nicky Beer. I'll summarize her insights in the next blog.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Of Gates and Gatekeepers or Kicking Open the Door

As many of you know, I received my poetry MFA in 2008 from a low-residency program "later in life" after a previous graduate degree from seminary, after multiple career changes, after decades of being a business executive, after three grown children, after a previous attempt to get my MFA from a traditional program, after, after, after...

My vision was that after I got my MFA, I'd also get my manuscript published so I could resign "my day job", take a creative writing teaching position, and have all the time I needed to produce books two, three, four, ad infinitum, just like my mentors had done. I knew it wouldn't be easy (I was used to that), but I didn't know that the chances of accomplishing my goal in this lifetime were somewhere north of the probability of winning the lottery with the purchase of one quick-pick.

I submitted to all the major (and most of the minor) book contests--to the tune of hundreds, yea thousands, of dollars. I revised my manuscript more times than I cut my hair. I broke it down into multiple chapbooks and submitted those to all of the chapbook contests. I applied to every fellowship I could find to get funding. All the time, I kept writing new work, exchanging poems regularly with my colleagues, reading as much as I could in order to keep developing as a poet.

And that was just the first year. I doubled my efforts over the next three.

I placed as a semi-finalist a few times. A finalist. I won second prize in a national chapbook contest--a bittersweet victory, as I truly admire the judge and am grateful for her confirmation--but, alas, no publication. I continued to see my poems regularly accepted in journals. A couple of top ones. I took heart in the fact that Spencer Reece submitted The Clerk's Tale for nineteen years without getting it published, before it won The Bread Loaf Bakeless Prize. I calculated that I would be 78 if it took me that long and wondered if I would think it worth it by then.

For several years I had repeatedly "stepped down" from positions of responsibility in order to have more time and energy to write. I continued that downward mobility, feeling good that I was willing to sacrifice income and status for my art--that when I won that $26K Fellowship it would replace the money I'd lost, that when my book was published, I could get that teaching position which would make up for all the soul-deadening work I'd done over the years of pushing people to buy things they didn't need, of firing people because they weren't as good at it as I was, in order to keep my job.

I was born in the midwest and still have the work ethic that goes with it, so I just kept at it, relying on the belief that enough hard work mixed with a modicum of talent would overcome all the odds. But, without being fully aware of it, my beliefs were changing. I was changing. And so I began to look for non-traditional ways to meet my goals. If I couldn't be a full-time writer by winning a major fellowship, maybe there were other avenues of funding. If I couldn't win a major book prize, maybe there were other ways to get my book published that still had the credibility of not going to a vanity press. If I couldn't teach creative writing in an academic setting, maybe I could still motivate others to write in a way that was still rewarding.

I became so hungry for a change that I changed the way I looked at what had to be done for that change to come.

Without going into all of the details, I'll just say that I started working on getting myself ready to receive what I wanted just as hard as I'd been working to get other people to give me what I wanted. I conquered what had been for me an ever-increasing debilitating physical condition with the help of an astute emergency room doctor. I changed my diet completely, which changed my brain, which changed my pessimism to optimism, my fear to a sense of well-being. This sense of well-being has given me the confidence to step out in faith with a radical experiment.

After consulting my partner, my attorney and a few close friends, I have decided to accept a federally funded lifetime writing fellowship that has been available to me for the past few months. It's called Social Security. That's right. I turned sixty-two last November and, even though I've always been advised to "wait until you're sixty-five," after crunching the numbers, I decided that time to do what I want is more important than the relatively small increase in income if I wait. So, in thirty days, I'll be a full-time writer and a part-time retailer, working at my day job eight days a month and writing three to five days a week.

Oh, did I mention that some colleagues of mine have invited me to help them with their publishing company--a small press with an educational piece whereby teachers can download lesson plans for poetry books that will be available in libraries, schools, and other outlets? Did I mention how much my writing has improved since I made this decision (at AWP Chicago), due to the freedom I now feel? Did I mention how prolific I have been already--writing new poems, attending to my blogs on a regular basis, being inspired with new thoughts, new directions, new projects?

All of this because I changed my belief. When I saw other people--editors, journals, presses, institutions--as the gatekeepers, my response was to try to kick open the door. But whenever I realized that I was the only gatekeeper to what I wanted, I found a way. Maybe a magic latch didn't appear, maybe I had to take the gate off its hinges, maybe I had to walk down the road and find another gate, but I found one I could open, and a way to open it.

Your gate is not mine, nor is the path to it. But from one writing pilgrim to another...stop kicking at a gate that won't open. Believe that there is one waiting for you that will open, and start looking for it. Now.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


AWP 2012--Chicago--was more than a whirlwind tour--it was a 10,000 writer-strong category 5 hurricane, hurling ink and pulp, neurons and internet, words and music, ripping through Chicago with more power than any storm has ever before battered this third coast literary birthplace. Ecstatic speech welled up and flowed through the loop like the Chicago River flash-flooding the deep arteries of the city, rising to the upper levels of Michigan, Wabash and State, running off to Plainfield, Oak Park and Skokie, taking to the atmosphere, then raining down on Boston, New Jersey and Manhattan, pouring down on San Francisco and Amelia Island, circling the planet, pulsing inside the millions of pens and keyboards until it multiplied and mutated and joined the music of the spheres.

Here then, in no particular order, are MY TOP TEN INEFFABLE MOMENTS AT AWP (My TTIMs)

TTIM #1: Margaret Atwood's Keynote Speech including her comment that too many would-be writers just want to "tell their sad little stories." Also included in this TTIM is Allison Joseph's acceptance of the AWP/George Garrett Award for Outstanding Community Service in Literature! Not only did Allison provide a template for every Oscar winner's acceptance speech, her triceps were so cut in that sleeveless dress that if there had been any non-poetry lovers in the audience, they would have run down the aisle in sack-cloth and ashes, repenting of their mortal sin, lest the mighty arm of the god of poetry strike them down into illiterate hell!

TTIM #2: Philip Levine's and Carol Ann Duffy's Joint Poets Laureate Reading. Carol Ann Duffy's humorous, witty persona poems in the voices of the wives of fairy tales such as Mrs. Midas and Mrs. Faust were pure ecstasy. We knew that the poems Philip Levine would read would be terrific, but the vitality and power of his voice took us by surprise. Unbelievable. Ninety minutes is far too short a time to listen to these two virtuosic poets at the height of their powers.

TTIM #3: Chicago As Literary Birthplace Panel: Chicu Reddy, Lisa Fishman, Bin Ramky, and Ed Roberson. Lisa Fishman, Director of Poetry Programs at Columbia College Chicago, presented Chicago as lyric birthplace by telling the story of The Song of the Lark by Willa Cather. In it, Thea Kromborg leaves a small town for the big city to discover that voice, not piano, is her artistic location. Fishman presents Thea as analog to Chicago, finding its lyric voice by surprise while seeking its more practical narrative destiny. Fishman's presentation is as beautiful as Thea Kromborg's imagined voice, and as compelling a call for us to answer with our best work.

Among the six beginnings that Bin Ramky presented were pastoral images of the orchards predating O'Hare Airport, the air above the Chicago flood of 1992 and the blank blue sky erased of contrails the afternoon of 09/11/11. Bin went on to tell of his own early encounter, riding on a bus from Gary Indiana in December of 1975 and concluded with a small poem, "Mattering." Mattering as in turning into matter. The city building itself in some pastoral model. Exquisite!

Time was Ed Roberson hated Chicago. Didn't want to be part of that scene. But, like many others, Chicago captured him. By the way of the black arts movement. Haki Madhubuti and others. Captured him with Negro Digest, Broadside, Third World and Lotus Presses. Chicago opened up its arms whenever Ed retired, after surviving illness unto death. A second start in the second city. New teaching posts. New books. New Ed Roberson. In Chicago's icy, sweaty grip.

Srikanth Reddy (Chicu to his friends), a poet who was born and raised in Chicago, marginalizes his own Asian-American background in his writing, or at least only obliquely allows his ethnicity to inform his work. This, according to Chicu, is because he doesn't want to fall into the trap of being another Asian American poet writing about post-imperialism. But all of this is privileged background to Chicu's direct engagement with Chicago poetry that defines itself by not defining itself. There is no Chicago school of poetry in the sense of aesthetics or subject matter or style, the way there is a New York School, a San Francisco School. You can be any kind of writer you want and be a mainstream Chicago writer or poet. I resonate to this analysis--somewhat. I believe there is a Chicago school of poetry. It is defined by the core values of a midwestern work ethic: rigor, discipline, seriousness of intent. Excellence. And these four poets are paradigmatically Chicagoan poets.

TTIM #4: Storytelling in Poetry: Crafting the Narrative Poem Panel: I was fortunate to be on this panel and the only reason I list it as a Top Ten Ineffable Moment is that I had an out of body experience while I was giving my presentation, because I expected around 30 attendees and more than one hundred people packed into Private Dining Room 2, SRO, before spilling out into the hallway. The worst good news of the day: I ran out of handouts. The best: people actually liked my presentation. Thank you to everyone for the kind kind words. I am proposing a panel for Boston--more about that later.

TTIM #5: Naugatuck River Review Offsite Reading at the Famous Billygoat Tavern: Just being in this dingy, iconic space in the bowels of the city under Michigan Avenue was enough to get a little verklempt. Add the double cheeseburger (like lead in the gut, according to my girl friend), a couple of drinks, some poems by John Victor Anderson and Christina Lovin read in a hallway-sized dining room with enough room between our heads to count the number of gray roots of the poet seated next to you, backed up by a heater fan making its random sforzando entrances during readings by the most difficult to hear poets, and you've got the makings of a medicine journey to anywhere you want to go. And we went. In the penultimate lines of John Victor Anderson's first prize poem, "Alligator Kisses": "[Gataboy] draw Momma's teeth, square teeth, piano teeth./He draw moons, he draw stars, he draw himself/up and up and up."

TTIM #6: D.A. Powell Reading for Gray Wolf Press: It is appropriate that I first heard D.A. Powell read in Chicago. 2004. Cocktails. Muse-sick of the gods. Diction of the Devil. OMG! Powell has somehow taken on a warmer tone in this reading. As if he were attempting to put out the hem of your grandmother's shawl that has caught on fire from the ashes of her cigarette not by pouring on gasoline, but by rubbing in a little olive oil, setting ablaze his own fingers in the process. My favorite two poems Powell read are "Mass for Pentecost: Canticle for Birds and Water" and "Missionary Man." I will not duplicate either poem here, but you can link to the beginning lines of "Missionary Man" to get a taste of Powells' sickness at Then if you want more, you can simply buy his new book, "Useless Landscape, or A Guide for Boys" or his book before that, "Chronic." As far as "Chronic" is concerned, if that moniker is emblematic of D.A. Powell, I never want to recover!

TTIM #7 and TTIM #8: Michael Waters and Dorianne Laux closed the BOA reading on Saturday with two terrific readings that brought the audience to its feet. If you know these poets, then I don't need to say anything more. If you don't know these poets, there is no way to describe to you the experience of hearing their work read by them, so I'll just give you a link to a couple of their poems that they read: and If that's not enough, you'll have to figure out how to catch a plane, a train, a bus to their next reading. I don't have time to help you--I'll be reading their next books.

TTIM #9: Watching my colleagues at Trio House Press, Tayve Neese, Dorinda Wegener, Lisa Sisler and Steven Riel (, totally invest themselves into expanding their personal and professional horizons by reaching out to and connecting with hundreds of poets and writers, listening to their stories, sharing opportunities, giving hope, giving encouragement, giving love.

TTIM #10: Experiencing the joy of parallel play with my partner, Janet, as her energies both aligned with mine on our mutual quest and diverged from mine on our unique journeys, creating an oscillation of sine and cosine curves, weaving a living lyrical narrative in pursuit of the holy literary grail. Aho!

Monday, February 6, 2012


I received an email the other day from a neighbor of a prominent contemporary poet who is a friend of mine. She (the neighbor) was also a poet, was coming to San Francisco, and was given my email address by my friend. We met for coffee in North Beach, had a wonderful conversation, and both made another poetry connection.

The inevitable question came up early: who are your influences? We shared some: Walt Whitman, Wallace Stevens, Gerald Stern, Larry Levis, Li-Young Lee, Malena Morling, Michael Waters. I added Spencer Reece, Suzanne Buffam, Adelia Prado, Stephen Dunn--some poets she didn't know. She added hers who were strangers to me.

Last night at a party I was introduced to a couple as a poet, by my domestic partner. The woman introduced the man as a poet, as well. We both objected--I responded with Robert Frost's quote about "poet" being a term ascribed to you by others, not one claimed by oneself, and he responded that all he did was write down sentences in lines--he "didn't believe in form." "Who is your favorite poet," he asked. I shuffled my feet and said something about the difficulty of narrowing it down, but that if I had to name one poet who had knocked my socks off, on most days it would probably be Larry Levis. Blank stare. "Ever heard of him?" I offered. "Nope." "He was a student of Philip Levine's--you know his work, right?" Can't say that I do. "He's our current poet laureate." I shifted, searching for common ground--"Of course, I guess all of us who write in the English language owe a debt to Walt Whitman, right?" He doesn't do it for me. I'm a Bukowski man myself, he proclaimed. "Oh," I said, "of course Buk influenced us all with his subject matter--he gave us all permission to write about whatever we wanted to write about." He agreed, went back to his original statement about not really writing poetry, but just putting sentences down, breaking them up into short lines with three or four words each--like Bukowski did. And that was that.

Thinking about these two encounters, I could write endlessly about their differences, but the one that sinks in most for me is how in the first one, we both took out paper and pencil and wrote down the names of poets we didn't know and the books that they wrote, for the purpose of expanding our reading. In the second one, neither of us walked away from the encounter with the intention of reading anyone or anything that the other offered--in my case because I've already read pretty much everything that Bukowski ever wrote, and in his case because he didn't give a flip of a page for any poet other than Bukowski, and probably never will.

Now in the cold dark of the midnight of night (3 AM), I am also thinking that none of us are completely honest about our "influences." What I mean is that the only ones we name are our heroes. If they were our only influences, shouldn't we be better writers (assuming they are/were better writers than we)? I don't think we've thought the question through; there are many writers who influence us by holding us back, just as there are many who help us improve. My parents, for example, wonderful people that they were, were terrible writers. My mother dropped out of high school, and my father never got past the fourth grade. But I've probably experienced more of their language than all the poets I've read put together. Quite an influence, but not one that has helped me win the Pulitzer. And what about all of those student papers and poems we've suffered through? And the horrible work of famous writers? Newspaper columns, magazine articles, movie dialogue, poetry recited at afternoon teas to celebrate national rose month. On and on.

The next time someone asks me who are my influences, I'm going to say that I'm not totally sure, but I'm working on overcoming most of them--here are some writers who are helping me do that...

In the mean time, what writers are helping you?