The Conversation Contintues

DSCN3270Stacia Fleegal has written an excellent post that keeps the discussion going on Sandra Simonds et al’s drive to get the Poetry Foundation to turn a portion of its immense resources toward helping poets in need.


Here is the link to Fleegal’s piece & a excerpt:

I was going to just tweet about it and let it die: “Open letters are the bunnies of the written word–they just keep making more of themselves.”

But I got really upset and figured the most productive thing to do was to pledge my grievance, take my fight to the one place where it makes the most sense, where people will really care…my poor neglected blog.

Womp womp.

Poet Sandra Simonds did it better. She wrote a much-needed and increasingly publicized open letter to the Poetry Foundation asking, in a nutshell, for them to step up and help poets in economic need.

You know, to do its job, the one it purports to do bigger and better than anyone else.


Also, Simonds has share that there is actual progress being made at the Poetry Foundation. If we keep the discussion going, we could very well see needful action taken.

Postscript: Open Letter to the Poetry Foundation: Share the Wealth

Sandra Simonds’ open letter sparked the creation of a successful petition–it reached it’s 1000 signature goal.



The Facebook group, Unite for Poets in Need, is probably the best way to keep tabs on  developments:

But there has been blowback. An incredibly brave poet (I say this sarcastically as the poet in question decided to be anonymous, highlighting the wonderfully typical troll manner of dishing it out but not able to take it) decided to write a response letter to Simmonds taking her to task for daring to make a reasonable request for action.

Fortunately a much more articulate writer than I, Erin Lyndal Martin, provided a necessary and complete rebuttal that soundly dismisses the faux outrage of ‘Buzz Poet’.

Rauan Klassnik over at HTML Giant posted both letters, but here’s Martin’s again:

Erin Lyndal Martin’s Response to the Anonymous Letter Addressed to Sandra Simonds in Response to Her Open Letter to The Poetry Foundation

Dear Buzz Poet,

This is an open letter in response to your letter addressing Sandra Simonds’ open letter to the Poetry Foundation.

One basic fact missing from your letter is that you seem to forget that poetry is work: “The difference between poets and the general public is that some of us, like you, Sandra, are fortunate enough to have an audience and a platform to reach them. In today’s rocky economic climate, one governed by debt and political deficit, I do not think it is in the best interest of your audience or the poetry community to model such irresponsible behavior in asking for a financial handout from the Poetry Foundation to support the poets you hold in such romanticized esteem.”  Simonds has an audience and platform, mostly from within the literary community, because she has worked hard to build those connections through her work and social networking. Much of the work associated with poetry is thankless and unpaid; Simonds’ audience includes many of her peers who face her same financial reality. They may put in hours editing literary magazines that don’t make a profit, or they may write countless unpaid book reviews in an attempt to garner support and audiences for other poets.   They publicize and promote poetry.  Is it, indeed, a “handout” when one is asking to receive support from a foundation for forwarding the same work as that foundation?  The Poetry Foundation’s website says that they are “committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture.” Is Simonds, who writes, teaches, and reviews contemporary poetry not furthering the same agenda?

One question that lingers for many poets who founder without the support of the Poetry Foundation or similar arts organizations is what those organizations do with their money if not support poets.  In President John Barr’s 2011 Year-in-Review letter posted on the foundation’s website (no similar letter for 2012 seems to be available), Barr is directly evasive: “Not all of the ‘hard metal’ that nurtures and contains the poetic energy at the Foundation is visible to the naked eye. The strategic plan, the annual forty-page operating budget, managing the endowment.” So why not make it visible to the naked eye? Why not publish the budget or the strategic plan? And why is the latest Audited Financial Statement from the foundation posted on their website from 2010?  No one is arguing that it costs money to run a major organization—or that the Poetry Foundation needed a new, permanent headquarters—but did it have to cost $10.2 million to build said headquarters?  In short, if the foundation is getting money to further poetry, why not make their use of funds more transparent?  Why not step forward and justify the design and construction of such an expensive building?

In an interview with Barn Owl Review, Simonds, discussing one of her poems, says,” “It cost me $523 dollars to write this poem[…]The $523 is the amount that I spent on the supplemental daycare for the week.”  $10.2 million would cover a lot of daycare.  For Simonds, a working  mother, it is doubtful that even with daycare she was able to spend that week writing the kind of progressive verse the Poetry Foundation claims to forward via financial awards.  How are those poets who are not already financially privileged expected to gain the education, social contacts (the platform that Buzz Poet seems to assume Simonds magically manifested), etc. that poets need in order to gain enough recognition to even be on the Poetry Foundation’s radar?

Buzz Poet states that Ms. Simonds was “lazy” and misdirected in airing her grievances to the Poetry Foundation instead of her State Representative. Given her initiative to write the letter and receive flak like yours, it’s hard to see how “lazy” can be a fitting adjective (plus, please let us not forget that we are talking about a working mother who is also trying to make a career as a writer here). Moreover, you lament your own lack of healthcare but are writing open letters to poets instead of lobbying your own State Representative, a charge you levy against Simonds.

But I wanted to speak to the claim that Simonds was misdirected in asking the Poetry Foundation for support.  People in many professions have organizations that are there to look after their quality of life.  My mother, a veteran schoolteacher, knows that she can count on at least being heard by her local chapter of the NEA when professional concerns arise. No, they don’t pay her salary, but they make it easier to do her job.  Unionized workers have union reps who can be consulted.  Poets have…other poets on Facebook?  When Sam Hamill launched in 2003 after Laura Bush canceled a poetry symposium, the Poetry Foundation came neither to the aid of Hamill nor the cause of free speech in poetry. Even after Hamill collected over 20,000 poems in his anthology, his work went unrecognized by the Poetry Foundation, who seems plenty able to find the time and money this year to display a replica of Emily Dickinson’s dress at a forthcoming November event.  Is this disparity because President Barr (who wrote about the necessity of moving American poetry forward–not backward to Dickinson’s time– in “American Poetry in the New Century,” available on the foundation’s website) believes, as he states in that same essay, that “the responsibilities of the public to poetry are nil” and the responsibilities are “all on the part of the American poets?” To return to the schoolteacher comparison, is it a high school teacher’s fault if a scant few teenagers show up on their own to a math class (especially if it were as elusive to attend math class as it is to get involved in a poetry community)?

Essentially, you seem to have misunderstood Simonds’ main point.  You write, “You say in your open letter that ‘it is heartbreaking when poets you have admired for years are forced to ask for help with basic necessities,’ and I wonder how this is any more heartbreaking than the millions of other Americans struggling financially to make ends meet. How do the struggles of everyday Americans differ, and to what degree, from those problems faced by the poetry community?” Simonds is not asking for special treatment, nor is she claiming that poets deserve it above everyday Americans.  She is simply asking that the Poetry Foundation live up to its purported mission of supporting poets and poetry.

To Success, Health, and Support for All,

Erin Lyndal Martin


Open Letter to the Poetry Foundation: Share the Wealth

This comes from poet, teacher, and philosopher Sandra Simmonds, who is probably one of the best minds in contemporary poetry. Her most recent collection of poems, Mother Was a Tragic Girl, can be gotten via Small Press Distribution.


If this Open Letter prompts you into wanting to take some form of action, a petition has been started.



Open Letter to the Poetry Foundation: Share the Wealth

To the Poetry Foundation:

This is an open letter asking the Poetry Foundation to make a strong financial commitment to aid poets in our communities facing financial crises and a lack of adequate healthcare.

Many poets and I are concerned about the welfare of the many poets facing unprecedented economic challenges in this unstable economy. In the last year or two, a number of poets, old and young, established and emerging, have asked for financial assistance on social media and through email for healthcare costs, rent, and even utilities. It is heartbreaking when poets you have admired for years are forced to ask for help with basic necessities. The poetry community is strong. We help each other when our members are in need, and many poets have answered those calls for assistance. We are asking you to contribute to this effort.

Currently, the organizations in place to help poets in need are few, and their funding is insufficient. I have been in contact with Lyn Hejinian, a poet on the board of the non-profit organization “Poets in Need,” which helps aid poets who are struggling financially. However, this organization has roughly $80,000 total and can only make very small individual contributions to poets, usually less than $3,000. Every bit helps, and we’re grateful to this organization’s hard work, but you have the opportunity to make a major difference.

Last year the Poetry Foundation’s income was over seven million dollars and the foundation’s total assets are well above 150 million dollars. I was disappointed to learn that the Poetry Foundation gives only around $7,500 annually to poets in need. It seems appropriate that since Mrs. Lilly’s endowment came from pharmaceuticals, the foundation would commit some portion of its vast resources to underwrite the cost of health insurance for the poets she so admired.

Perhaps the Foundation would consider inaugurating a funding opportunity to enable established organizations such as Poets in Need to broaden and deepen the range of their assistance to poets. A substantial renewable Foundation grant to such organizations would show compassion and make a meaningful difference to those poets who might otherwise be without resources.

Like you, we believe poetry has the power to change lives and transform communities. Let’s not leave behind the poets who make that transformation possible.

Sandra Simonds

(I could not have composed this letter without the generous help with research of Juliana Spahr, Jen McCreary and Taylor Brady and thank you to Sean Singer for editing).

Brilliance of Brevity workshop in Abroad Writers Conference

Dynamic Writers Workshop in Magnificent Lismore Castle

Inline image 2

Lismore Castle, Waterford, Ireland

Ethel Rohan will teach a “Brilliance of Brevity” workshop in Lismore Castle, Waterford, as part of Abroad Writers Conference.
This three day master class will focus on the crafting of electric and concise narratives. The workshop runs December 11-13th, 2013, and is for writers of both fiction and creative non-fiction. The class goal is to hone the art of selectivity and write one’s best and briefest work. In-workshop writing will encourage fearless enjoyment of the process and the careful construction of the stories we’re most burning to tell.
Participants will study and write amidst a fun and dynamic collective spark, and in a magnificent castle. Other writers teaching at Lismore Castle as part of the Abroad Writers Conference include: Robert Olen Butler; Karen Joy Fowler; Mariel Hemingway; Claire Keegan; Jane Smiley; Lily Tuck; and many more.
Ethel Rohan is an award-winning writer and the author of two story collections, her latest titled Goodnight Nobody. She invites writers at all levels to join her in Lismore Castle and says, “We will do great things together.” For further details please visit To register please email founding Director Nancy Gerbault at image 4

Gently Read Literature, Fall 2013



The Fall 2013 issue of Gently Read Literature is available now. Take a look at the contents listed below and if this sounds like a good line up to you, you should probably subscribe.

A year-long subscription to Gently Read Literature (3 issues) is $10 & will be delivered to you as a PDF.

You can subscribe via PayPal ( ) to the email address

or mail a check payable to Daniel Casey to

Daniel Casey

816 Indiana St.

Lawrence, KS 66044


(Critic, Author, Work)

4—Caroline Crew: On Male Privilege, The Exorcist, & Women Writers Who Won’t Step Down

7—Sophfronia Scott: The Making of a Classic, Review of Pamela Erens The Virgins

14—Alyssa Jocson: Forever Quirky and Fantastically Flawed and Ridiculous, Review of Madeline McDonnell Penny, n.

16—Jaime Boler: Think Twice Before Opening Boxes, Review of Norah Labiner Let the Dark Flower Blossom

20—Suzanne Hard: Persistent Empathy, Review of Anne Leigh Parrish All the Roads that Lead from Home

22—Suzanne Hard: Ill-equipped, Perhaps, Deserving of Compassion, Laura Kasischke If A Stranger Approaches You

25—Eileen Austen: In Search of Narrative, Review of Alicia Kozameh Ostrich Legs

31—Kelly Lydick: Unconsciously Conscious, Review of Bernadette Mayer Ethics of Sleep

35—Glenda Burgess: Art of the Discarded and Reclaimed, Review of Dana Johnson Elsewhere, California

37—Christine Cody: A Missive from the Deities, Review of Anne Germanacos In the Time of Girls

40—Matthew Mahaney: A Lyrical Choose-Your-Own Adventure, Review of Loren Erdrich & Sierra Nelson I Take Back the Sponge Cake

44—Allan B. Rubin: An Edifying Compendium, Review of Daniela Gioseffi Pioneering Italian American Culture

47—Maria Espinosa: Of Craving, Of Touch, Review of Susan Sherman The Light That Puts an End to Dreams

50—Pamela Klein: Uncomfortably Dangerous Poetry, Review of Rauan Klassnik The Moon’s Jaw

53—Bill Pruitt: Questionable Insight, Review of Hugh Martin The Stick Soldiers

57—Bill Pruitt: Xenotransplantation, Review of Bruce Beasley Theophobia

60—Holly Helscher: The Complexity of Choices, Review of Gila Green King of the Class

63—Glenn Halak: Poetic Persona vs Poetry, Review of Helene Cardona Dreaming My Animal Selves

68—Glenn Halak: The Invisible Man, Review of William Pitt Root’s translation of Pablo Neruda

78—Cory Johnston: Forms of Detachment in Holocaust Literature

Gently Read Literature, 2013 Spring Issue

Now that Spring is finally here, so is a new issue of Gently Read Literature. The Spring Issue has some brilliant poetry and fiction reviews as always as well as some interesting literary essays. This issue’s most interesting feature is a special section devoted to impressions, personal essays, and summaries from attendees to this year’s AWP Conference is Boston.

Take a look at the contents–


Special Feature Essay on the AWP Conference Boston

Featuring Mary Biddinger, Heather Bowlan, Dianne Turgeon Richardson, Kris Bigalk, Mark Jenkins, & Suzanne Cope

Reviews & Essays

Taste and See: Michelle Ovalle Reviews Tropicalia by Emma Trelles

An Act of Witness: Tawnysha Greene Reviews Pamela Uschuk’s Wild in the Plaza of Memory

An Untroubled Poet: David Appelbaum Reviews Laurie Filipelli’s Elseplace

Unclear Dreams: Stacie Theis Reviews Patricia Goodwin’s When Two Women Die

What Remains: Ben Moeller-Gaa Reviews Kristina Marie Darling’s Melancholia (An Essay)

A Reach For Our Better Angels: Sophfronia Scott Reviews Robert Vivian’s Tall Grass Trilogy

The Mystery of Faith: Zachary Boissonneau Reviews Ira Sadoff’s True Faith

The Sestina and Ardor: An Essay by Marilyn Krysl

An Inner World: Maria Espinosa Reviews Paul Christensen’s Strangers in Paradise

Images of Water: Lisa Cole Reviews Edith Sodergran’s Salt Ballads as translated by Brooklyn Copeland

Finding One Thing in Another: Jeffrey DeLotto Reviews Anne Whitehouse’s The Refrain

Colors of Emotion and Mind: Jesse A. Lambertson Reviews Neil de la Flor’s An Elephant’s Memory of Blizzards

Die Now, Die Then: Jesse A. Lambertson Reviews Robert Day’s Where I am Now

Accordions in the Mind: Lisa Cole Reviews Juliet Cook’s Poisonous Beautyskull Lollipop

In the Midst of Anxiety: Victoria McCoy Reviews Matthew Cooperman’s Still: Of the Earth as the Ark which Does Not Move

Getting Away With It: Lisa Cole Reviews Listen to Her Heart by Amy Berkowitz

o louvre of the world, Poetry and Grammar: Emma Bolden Reviews Emily Carr’s 13 ways of Happily

Life in the Margins: Ben Moeller-Gaa Reviews Kristina Marie Darling’s Petrachan

One-on-One, Writer & Reader: Linda Lappin Interview with Thomas Kennedy

Love at the Speed of Sound: Sophfronia Scott on Elena Passarello’s Let Me Clear My Throat

The Drive to Connect: Stephen Page Ponders Adrienne Rich’s The Dream of a Common Language

Stolen Identity: Alyssa Jocson Reviews Eric Goodman’s Twelfth & Race

Literary Combat for History’s Collective Memory of the South before the American Civil War: An Essay by Forest Balderson


If this sounds like a good line up to you, you should probably subscribe. A year-long subscription to Gently Read Literature (3 issues) is $10 & will be delivered to you as a PDF.

You can subscribe via PayPal ( ) to the email address

or mail a check payable to Daniel Casey to

Daniel Casey

816 Indiana St

Lawrence, KS 66044

Gently Read Literature

Well, it’s here in time for the new year–the first subscription-based issue of Gently Read Literature. GRL’s 2013 Winter Issue is packed with quality, in-depth reviews and essays.

 Subscribe & get your copy today! A year-long subscription to Gently Read Literature (3 issues) is $10 & will be delivered to you as a PDF. Via PayPal ( ) to the email address rr mail a check payble to Daniel Casey to

Daniel Casey

816 Indiana St

Lawrence, KS 66044

Table of Contents

Sigh Eternally: CL Bledsoe on Adam Clay’s poetry collection “A Hotel Lobby at the Edge of the World”

A Beginning For an Author Who Obviously Isn’t a Beginner: David Atkinson on Molly Ringwald’s novel “When It Happens To You”

Cycles of Time, Notes to a Tune: Kelly Lydick on Sandy Florian’s poetry collection “Prelude to Air from Water”

The Horse Doesn’t Always Flow: Nicole Contreras on Leslie Scalapino’s hybrid work “Floats Horse-Floats or…

View original post 259 more words