Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Peter Hammarberg Interview Me, Posts it on The Write Club!

My good friend, scathing wit and fabulous New York poet Peter Hammarberg, interviewed me for The Write Club. His interview appears as "The Process: Featuring Colleen Harris." Peter had some really good and insightful questions - I think many of us write and rarely get the chance to talk about our process. Go ahead and give it a read, if you have a minute - and post your comments there, since I'd love to know what you think!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Breaking in The Green of Breakable Things

In more good (and very recent) news beyond the Pushcart nomination:

The Lamplighter Review took my poems "Gold Frame," "In Praise of Kevlar" and "When You Came Home from the War." These are the first poems from my unpublished manuscript The Green of Breakable Things to be picked up, and I'm particularly proud of them. Hooray! Look for them in the next issue of Lamplighter. (Also, a side note - the response time was phenomenal, which is always much appreciated!)

I'll also have work out in the next issue of River Styx and Sow's Ear Poetry Review.

And finally for today, The Green of Breakable Things has been entered in her first poetry book contests. Wish her (and me) luck! (And, of course, if you're an editor and want to read the manuscript, I'd be happy to send it along *grin*)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Pushcart Nomination!!

There is no turkey at my house. No stuffing, mashed potatoes, or any of the other foods and smells that I usually associate with Thanksgiving. I should probably be halfway to depressed. But, while I miss all of that usual foodly goodness, i can't quite bring myself to wallow very deeply. My trusty editor, Robert Ward, emailed me yesterday with some lovely news and an early Christmas gift: he nominated me for a Pushcart for my poem "The Light Becomes Us."

I'm absolutely thrilled/tickled/walking on air about it. (Choose your expression of joy and insert it as you will.) And for a number of reasons - first, well, it's a damn Pushcart, only one of the most prestigious writerly awards! Second, "The Light Becomes Us" happens to be one of my favorite, favorite poems of mine. (Can I have a favorite poem of my own without seeming too self-absorbed?) Anyway, it's a poem that makes me happy, each time I read it, that *I'm* the person who wrote it. Those are the best sort, I think, at least from the author's side of things.

And so, as we enter the holiday season and I am trying to make sure my worklife and my home/writing life remain separate and both lively, I am concentrating on how good a year this has been for me in terms of my creative writing. My first book published in June. My MFA completed in November. Various publications and anthologizations (new word!) in lit mags and journals, and now a Pushcart nomination. Quite the haul for a matter of mere months!

And for this turkeyless Thanksgiving, I am thankful to Robert for all of the support and good juju he has given me. I am thankful to the poets at Spalding (Jeanie Thompson, Phil Deaver, Molly Peacock, Greg Pape, Rosemary Royston, heather Wyatt and many others) for helping me to polish my craft and support this whimsical notion I had to become A Writer. To my mother, Joanne, for her unconditional love and support. And to the rest of my family and friends, both in meatspace and on the intarwebs, who humor me and politely ignore (or unabashedly cheer) my obsession with finding just the right word and rhythm. I am also indebted to every person who bought a copy of my book, either for yourself or for your library or as a gift for someone else - that was a wonderful gift to me, whomever the book ended up going to! I am thankful.

Back on the Submissions Train

It is 1:00am. I just finished a few hours of submitting work, limiting myself (for tonight) to only those journals that have print publications and accept online submissions. I managed to get 21 submissions done, each with tailored cover letters, paying attention to who takes simultaneous submissions, who doesn't, and the number of poems each allows. I'm happy to see that more and more folks are utilizing the online submission manager software. it's not any easier on the eyes of the readers 7 editors (having read for the past 12 months for The Louisville Review, I feel your pain!), but it sure does make life a lot easier for writers.

I separate mu submissions by online vs mailing submissions because I prefer an efficient workflow, and it's easier for me to work this way and get more done. I was goaded into action by my poet-pal Rosemary Royston, who told me she was using her post-residency energy to get out her submissions. She inspired me, as I haven't submitted anything in ages and ages. So, twenty-one. Not bad for an initial crack. I'll do a snailmail batch (which tends to be smaller, since postage is expensive) before teh year is out, as well.

And truly? Between using Duotrope to limit the field, and the quick editing between my manuscripts-in-progress and cover letters? It took all of two and a half hours. Less,if you subtract the time I spent walking the dog. Sometimes I forget that it doesn't take much to put yourself out there. Get thee to submitting, writers!

Chugging right along. Heading to bed long past my bedtime. Happy Thanksgiving, all!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

And She Lives....

Okay, yes, it's been four months since I've last posted. Eep. How easily those weeks fly by without a thought, and eventually I'm able to ignore that nagging little voice reminding me about this blog. And *that* is all too close to how easy it is to ignore that little voice that tells me to write anything.

The big news: I've graduated! I now hold a Master of Fine Arts in Writing (with a poetry concentration) from Spalding University. I'm so proud I could burst!

My mother and some of my best friends hauled themselves to Louisville for my graduation, and it was wonderful to know they were there to see it and share in my excitement. WOO. Big excitement. This is the degree I am proudest of, so far, in addition to my undergrad degrees. (I appreciate the MLIS, but it was easy *grin*)

I had such a great time at my last residency, and felt so healthy with having time to write (which I did instead of drinking and smoking and staying out late partaking in other writerly bad habits), that I am rededicating myself to my writing. I am working on filling in a few gaps I see in my creative thesis before sending it out, and I have an in-progress collection that's very different from my usual, but which is a lot of fun and I think it has potential. It's tentatively titled The Green of Breakable Things, and I just submitted a few to a journal. (Ack, I've been ignoring submissions, too, and that's the other thing I need to get on.) The goddess collection keeps morphing ad changing and has lost its shape a bit, but it's still in the hopper.

I am thinking about setting up a writing corner and being serious about my writing time (as opposed to perching on the couch with the laptop balanced precariously, in my lazy after-work slouch). I have the corner all set up, and am seriously considering buying a desktop computer (as mine has died, and the wee 12" laptop is not comfortable for long-term writing endeavors). I'm pretty set on the Dell XPS. Pretty, pretty (and I've promised myself if I can polish off the two manuscripts by June, I'll play WoW again, recreationally).

I'm not waiting for the New Year to make my resolutions. I will write now. I will make the changes I need to make to ensure I don't let my job take over and crowd out my writing. It feels like a rebirth. Or at least waking from dormancy. Let's see what i can make happen...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Polishing Book 2: Gonesongs

More from me in a week or two - right now I'm concentrating on polishing Book 2, which will be my creative thesis for the MFA. It's a whole lot different than God in my Throat - more autobiographical and more personal narrative, which makes me a bit more raw when working on it. The working title for it is Gonesongs, though I'm not sure if I'm in love with that. I've got another title percolating, but the poem that includes the title line isn't actually written yet. Working on that, and if it gets written - and fits into the collection - I'll let you know.

Anyway, I've been extremely lucky. I requested poetess Jeanie Thompson as my mentor (if you've been following this blog, you know that she was actually my mentor for my first semester in the program), and happy of happies, I got her. Her first run-through of the manuscript culled a lot of extraneous junk and unnecessaries, and included some commentary that give me a much better idea of how the manuscript stands on its own. It's sort of like the book was a slab of marble with a good sculpture inside, and she managed to carve something worthy out of it. All to say, it's already far better after her first run-through of the manuscript, even though there are a few major rewrites and revisions for me to get done in short order.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Colleen is Anthologized in Against Agamemnon: War Poetry 2009

Happy news! My poem “Tysketöser” has been anthologized in Against Agamemnon: War Poetry 2009, edited by 2007 Pulitzer Prize Nominee James Adams. It's available out of Waterwood Press at Brazos Bookstore in Houston, TX (phone 713.523.0701). The focus was on poetry of witness, which is interesting, and it includes talented poets from around the globe. I am honored be included!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

God in my Throat Gone to Print; Paper Proposal for Wales Conference

Hi, all! Long time no write, I know. The best of news: God in my Throat: The Lilith Poems has gone to print, so if you pre-ordered a copy when the order form and website first went active, you should be seeing it quite shortly! Thank you both for your patience, and for your support of my work and the small press willing to put it out. You warm the cockles of my heart.

In other fun news, because it coincided nicely with the topic of my MFA critical thesis (which was on the poet H.D.'s revisionist mythmaking in her book length poem Helen in Egypt), I decided to pitch something to the "Recycling Myths, Inventing Nations" 2010 conference at Aberystwyth University in Wales (call for paper and panel proposals here). I almost feel guilty for it not really being related to my librarian-type research, but not enough not to make my pitch and cross the hell out of my fingers that it gets picked up for the conference. It's my first ever paper proposal (usually I pitch presentations). See my abstract below:

Revisionist Myth-Making: Poets Reclaiming and Rewriting History

Colleen S. Harris


After a brief study of the classical foundation for contemporizing myth and some of the treatments of it that bring us to the present, the proposed paper examines how the American poet H. D. breaks from the traditional poetic epic by developing a female heroic character. The paper explores the importance and impact of H.D. writing a female hero out of the character of Helen of Troy to conquer manifestations of male archetypes such as the warrior, the lover, and the protector. Expanding from the exploration of H.D.’s revision of the Helen myth, the examination moves into the broader impact of modern poets creating revisionist mythologies by rewriting major (and minor) historical and mythological characters to reflect modern values and contemporary concerns. Other myth and history-modifying poets discussed in the context of the paper include Louise Glück, Michael Ondaatje, Claudia Emerson, Andrew Hudgins and Frank X. Walker. The paper concludes with a discussion of the impact of this revisionist mythmaking and alternative history-writing on perspectives of history, and the opportunities – and pitfalls - of contemporizing myth by infusing old mythologies with modern voice and contemporary issues.

So, here's to hoping I'm interesting enough to get tapped for Wales. (Do I get "exotic" points for being American? Doubtful, but I can hope.) Cross your fingers (and anything else you can cross) that they contact me!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

God in my Throat Available for Purchase!

Thrilling news! God in my Throat is available for online purchase! The webmaster at Bellowing Ark press has it up and ready for you to pre-order your copy (expected ship late June/early July). If you visit the website for the book I built (in the words of Debra Kang Dean's poetry, "a quality like something homemade"), there's a pdf order form if you prefer to order by mail via check or money order.

My nascent reading and appearance schedule is also at, and I'm hoping to add a few more NC sites, maybe another one in New York if I can swing it, a few in Lexington and Louisville, Kentucky, and am crossing my fingers that I might (puh-leeze!) land a spot at the Meacham Writers Workshop in Chattanooga, where I actually wrote the book. I'll keep you updated as I add dates!

Anyway, you can earn my unending gratitude and make my millenium if you decide to order a copy, and if I'm ever in the area, I promise to sign it. Or hug you. Both, or either, as you prefer *grin*

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Books, Book Chapters, ISBNs...

Tons of publishing news! I've been a complete slacker about submitting to journals lately, but I do have some larger chapter and booklength publications that are ready to go, ISBN-ed and all.

I have a chapter in Teaching Generation M: A Handbook for Librarians and Educators, edited by Robert Lackie and Vibiana Bowman-Cvetkovic. In fact, mine is Chapter 1: "The Haves and Have-Nots: Class, Race, Gender, Access to Computers and Academic Success." Wooo! This chapter feeds into a lot of the work I did as a reference and instruction librarian.

I also have two chapters published in Writing and Publishing: The Librarian's Handbook, edited by Carol Smallwood and up on ALA's catalog (available this fall). My chapters are titled “MLS, MFA: The Librarian Pursuing Creative Writing” and “The Poet-Librarian: Writing and Submitting Work.” This was a really lovely opportunity to mesh my love for librarianship with my passion for creative writing, and hearty thanks to carol for letting me be a part of it.

Most exciting, the latest news from Robert Ward at Bellowing Ark Press. The latest issue of Bellowing Ark went out with the flyer advertising God in my Throat. If that wasn't thrilling enough, a local bookstore, Quail Ridge Books, has invited me to do a reading on Sunday, September 20th at 3:00 pm with a few other local writers. Even better, they inquired about ordering copies! My publisher's reply was, "As with all small presses, publication dates tend to be "flexible;" however we can assure you that Ms Harris' book "God in My Throat" (ISBN 978-0-944920-68-8) will be available for purchase no later than 15 July 2009."

That's right, people. July 15th is the go-date. I am SO EXCITED. This also means that if you work at a bookstore, at a library, in an English department, at a uni or in a city I can get to easily, I may beg you to put me in touch with someone who can help me set up a reading. Totally cashing in on my pals - I know, tacky, but if you love me you'll brush it off. *grin* As soon as it's up on the publisher's site, I'll post the link here, and I just purchased - but it's an ugly starter page, and I need to find hosting. Working on it.

More to the point, let's talk about the fact that I have my own ISBN. This thrills me both as a writer and as a librarian. I'm immortal, now. IMMORTAL. And, of course, I'll need that number tattooed somewhere. Going to have to find a good piece of real estate to put that! Woo!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Bibliography to Date

New job has me hopping, but the good news is that my extended critical essay (sort of a minor thesis) is complete and accepted. now all that's left is creative writing and putting together my creative thesis, which I'm hoping will turn into book 2. I've got good starts on two manuscripts right now, and I'm excited about both of them. More on that soon as I work on them. For now, I'd like to share my cumulative bibliography to date - it's not complete, since this semester isn't complete yet and I've one more full semester to go.

If you're interested and have the time, take a peek, let me know if I've skipped any of your favorite poets. I know there are gaps here, and I have plans to look at poets like Jane Kenyon, Maxine Kumin and Li-Young Le, among others, next semester. So, give it a run through - who would you add?

Boland, Eavan. Outside History: Selected Poems, 1980-1990. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1991.

Connor, Rachel Ann. H.D. and the Image. New York: Palgrave, 2004.

Dean, Debra Kang. Precipitates. Rochester: BOA Editions, 2003.

Doolittle, Hilda. Helen in Egypt. New York: New Directions, 1974.

Dove, Rita. Selected Poems. New York: Vintage-Random House, 1993.

Cisneros, Sandra. My Wicked Wicked Ways. New York: Turtle Bay Books, 1992.

Clifton, Lucille. Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems 1988-2000. Rochester: BOA Editions, 2000.

Eliot, T.S. Four Quartets. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1943.

--. The Waste Land and Other Poems. San Diego: Harcourt, Brace & Co., 1934.

Emerson, Claudia. Late Wife: Poems. Louisiana State University Press, 2005.

Friedman, Susan Stanford and Rachel Blau DuPlessis. Signets: Reading H. D. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1990.

Fritz, Angela DiPace. Thought and Vision: A Critical Reading of H. D.’s Poetry. Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1988.

Gallagher, Tess. Instructions to the Double. Pittsburgh: Carnegie Mellon University Press, 1994.

Gentry, Jane. Portrait of the Artist as a White Pig: Poems. Louisiana State University Press, 2006.

Giovanni, Nikki. The Selected Poems of Nikki Giovanni. New York: William Morrow and Company, 1996.

Glück, Louise. The First Four Books of Poems. Hopewell: The Ecco Press, 1995.

Guest, Barbara. Herself Defined: The Poet H. D. and Her World. Garden City: Doubleday, 1984.

Hayden, Robert. Collected Poems: Robert Hayden. Ed. Frederick Glaysher. New York: Liveright Publishing, 1996.

Haggis, Paul, and Bobby Moresco. Crash. Draft with Final Revisions, 18 March 2004. Bob Yari Productions, California.

Harjo, Joy. The Woman Who Fell From The Sky: Poems. New York: W.W. Norton, 1994.

Hugo, Richard, The Lady in Kicking Horse Reservoir. New York: W.W. Norton, 1973.

Hugo, Richard. The Triggering Town: Lectures and Essays on Poetry and Writing. New
York: W.W. Norton, 1982.

Iyer, Pico. Sun After Dark: Flights into the Foreign. New York: Alfred K. Knopf, 2004.

King, Michael, ed. H. D.: Woman and Poet. Orono: National Poetry Foundation, 1986.

Kinnell, Galway. Imperfect Thirst. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1994.

Kloepfer, Deborah Kelly. The Unspeakable Mother: Forbidden Discourse in Jean Rhys and H.D. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1989.

Komunyakaa, Yusef. Dien Cai Dau. Hanover: Wesleyan University Press, 1988.

Lauter, Estella. Women as Mythmakers: Poetry and Visual Art by Twentieth Century Women. Bloomington: University of Indiana Press, 1984.

McPherson, Sandra. The Spaces Between Birds: Mother/Daughter Poems 1967-1995. Hanover: Wesleyan University Press, 1996.

Manning, Maurice. Bucolics. Orlando: Harcourt, 2007.

Meek, Sandra, ed. Deep Travel: Contemporary American Poets Abroad. Roma, GA: Ninebark Press, 2007.

Merwin, W.S. The Vixen: Poems. New York: Knopf, 1996.

Milosz, Czeslaw, ed. A Book of Luminous Things: An International Anthology of Poetry. Harvest Books, 1998.

Morehead, Maureen. A Sense of Time Left. Monterey: Larkspur Press, 2003.

Morris, Adalaide Kirby. How to Live/ What to Do: H.D.’s Cultural Poetics. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2003.

Ondaatje, Michael. The Cinnamon Peeler: Selected Poems. New York: Vintage Books, 1989.

Patchett, Ann. Bel Canto. Fourth Estate, 2002.

Paz, Octavio. The Other Voice: Essays on Modern Poetry. Harvest Books, 1992.

Peacock, Molly. Second Blush. New York: W.W. Norton, 2008.

Quinn, Vincent Gerard. Hilda Doolittle (H. D.). New York: Twayne Publishers, 1968.

Raffo, Heather. 9 Parts of Desire. Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 2006.

Rich, Adrienne. Poems: Selected and New, 1950-1974. New York: W.W. Norton & Co, 1974.

Robinson, Janice S. H. D.: The Life and Work of an American Poet. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1982.

Sexton, Anne. All My Pretty Ones. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1961.

Smock, Frederick. Poetry & Compassion: Essays on Art & Craft. Nicholasville, KY: Wind Publications, 2006.

Stafford, William. The Darkness Around Us is Deep: Selected Poems of William Stafford. Ed. Robert Bly. New York: HarperPerennial, 1993.

Strand, Mark. Selected Poems. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1991.

Sword, Helen. Engendering Inspiration: Visionary Strategies in Rilke, Lawrence, and H. D. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1985.

Williams, William Carlos. Selected Poems. Ed. Charles Tomlinson. New York: New Directions, 1985.