Monthly Archives: August 2012

A blog post about self-publishing….

Here at Piscataway House Publications we pretty much started and live off the idea of self publishing. We began writing our books up in Microsoft word but soon taught ourselves, adobe indesign to make our layout look more professional. (it also made things a lot easier!).

I saw this blog tweeted by Chuck Palahniuk and could relate to it.

Enjoy and have a great weekend!

Mark Brunetti

A poem that’s been waiting…

I don’t know anything about Ann Malaspina. Her poem has been sitting in the idiom’s inbox for sometime and I finally got around to using it so here it is:

Horse Bones

water floods the basement,
lapping against washer,
sink and wall.

you have planted
a pump, installed pipes,
dug a drain.

still, the water deepens.
our fingers in the dike
make no difference.

under cracked concrete
the town’s horses are buried
in the clay earth.

as water fills our boots
i hear the horse bones shift,
ready to rise up.

This poem is so creepy and I don’t know why…I know the horse bones are coming from the title and it’s not like they actually appear just shift in the water but the anticipation makes the creepiness for me…Most of us have encountered a flooded basement and if bones began to float in that dirty water I would move out immediately….some of the unique but simple words are used to describe the situation which add to the voice and story and help create that effect like: “lapping, dug a drain, deepens, cracked, shift, rise up” I don’t know, those words or phrases stick out for me making this poem from average to great…

Stray thoughts on Roethke and Teaching

His addiction to bourgeois values, his compulsive need to be loved by all, but most of all the rich, was of course the obverse of the way he felt about himself. In his mind I believe he was always poor and unwashed, and he showed it when he walked.

The beginning lines of Richard Hugos chapter about Roethke and teaching from The Triggering Town

What’s your triggering town?

The Triggering Town Cover

The Triggering Town

One of the first critical essays I ever read was The Triggering Town by Richard Hugo. (You can buy it here for $1 !) …It was brought to me in my first writing class taught by BJ Ward…this essay and then the rest of the book of essays have been with me ever since and I read it at least once a year to refresh myself on things….this book has been a big influence when choosing pieces for The Idiom and a lot of little hints about quality writing come from this book.
In It Hugo compares each piece we write to its own triggering town and his advice focuses around treating your pieces like a town….Here is a link to the introduction of the book which is the essay I received in that class….Read it slow, absorb every paragraph and relate to it…..

Later in the book Hugo has a chapter called, Assumptions…He starts it like this….

Assumptions lie behind the work of all writers. The writer is unaware of most of them, and many of them are weird. Often the weirder the better. Words love the ridiculous areas of our minds. But silly or solid, assumptions are necessary elements in a successful base of writing operations. It is important that a poet not question his or her assumptions, at least not in the middle of composition. Finish the poem first, then worry, if you have to, about being right or sane.

Whenever I see a town that triggers whatever it is inside me that wants to write a poem, I assume at least one of the following:

Then he lists a bunch of one liners….Here are some that I liked,

  • The name of the town is significant and must appear in the title.
  • The inhabitants are natives and have lived there forever. I am the only stranger.
  • I have lived there all my life and should have left long ago but couldn’t
  • The town is closely knit, and the community is pleasant, I am not a part of it but I am a happy observer.
  • A hermit lives on the outskirts in a one-room shack. He eats mostly fried potatoes. He spends hours looking at old faded photos. He has not spoken to anyone in years. Passing children often taunt him with songs and jokes.
  • The population does not vary.
  • The population decrease slightly each year.
  • No music
  • Lots of excellent music coming from far off. People never see or know who is playing.
  • Dogs road the streets.
  • The town doctor is corrupt and incompetent.
  • No snow
  • Lots of rain
  • The jail is always empty
  • The team is in last place every year
  • People sit a lot on their porches

This isn’t the complete list but what stuck out to me as I flipped through the chapter….Check out the introduction and if you have any thoughts or comments or anything post them here….and hopefully you got something from this….

Bud Smith’s Poem from the Current Issue (Volume 7 Issue 5)

Here is a poem from the current issue by Bud Smith, you can see the rest of the issue here

Bud Smith is a writer living in Washington Heights, NYC and is the author of the short story collection OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT. His work has recently appeared in The Bicycle Review, Red Fez and Full of Crow. Also, he likes beer more than soda and soda less than water. or @bud_smith
if you’re into that kinda thing.

Cellar door

give me something
brittle little empty envelopes
coins flattened on railroad tracks
keys to cities underneath the earth
I’ll show you pilot lights
that we can relight
I’ll bring you up to the roof
point out birds on fire gliding through the night
in turn, give me clues
tracing paper traced with lemon juice
a map of the highway of your neck
leading down the front of your shirt
to somewhere with fog in the mornings
every morning.
every morning,
give me time,
I’m slow like vines growing down a hill
looking for the bottom
so I can climb a rusted fence
over the powerlines
up towards the hint of the moon
I’ll leave out directions for you
so you can circle the neighborhood
left turn after left turn after left turn after left turn
until you are right back here
where there is coffee for the both of us.

Bud was the first and only winner of the Idiom writing contest back in 2006 or so….you can see more poems by Bud and the rest of the current issue here

Patricia Smith’s Sonnet’s

Every Tuesday night before we attend the open mic at the Annex, a small group of us gather to workshop another person’s poem and use a prompt to try and spark another collection of words out of us.  Sometimes we don’t have a poem to workshop and Josh Ballard will get us to discuss some issue concerning poetry techniques or some dilemma frustrating the spoken word and writing world that we live in….This week we talked about the devices we use in our poems when writing them….

Many of the basic ones were addressed, plot, personification, allegory, setting, and of course form.  The form of our poems are mostly free verse, but occasionally you have someone try to write a villanelle – haikus are very popular with our group – but beyond all that Josh talked about keeping the form and tweeking them just a lil bit and briefly mentioned Patricia Smith’s collection of sonnets that she has….

That made me go back and search for some of her sonnets today as I sat in work looking for something to do besides work and I found Patricia’s ‘crown’ of sonnets entitled Motown Crown.  In case you fail to notice you’ll see its a collection of 15 sonnets the first line of each one using the last line of the previous one….then for the epic ending the 15th sonnet uses all 14 of the previous lines….$5,000 for the next writer who can do that successfully…..go
Motown Crown by Patricia Smith