Dear Poet: The 2-Day Poem Contest

The Rejection Project was temporarily back-burnered as three ongoing projects (that I can’t talk about yet) all hit at once. Wish for rain, get a storm. That doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten about this bit of motivation I’ve created for myself.

In fact, I’ve picked the first magazine I’m going to submit to: Contemporary Verse 2. CV2 holds the honour of being both in my classic, mail-in rejection pile and my more recent digital rejection pile—with a 14 year gap between.

I’m also breaking one of my rules right off the bat. (Poets. Not so good at rules.) I had said that I won’t pay to submit, and that’s still mostly true. However, CV2 hosts a yearly poetry contest/fundraiser called the 2-Day Poem Contest. They send you a list of ten words and you’ve got to write a poem using those words in 48 hours. The reason I’ll waive my no-cash rule for this is because…well, it’s fun. I’ve done it before (I’m still frustrated by the word furuncle) and I had a blast. I love an assignment. I enjoy writing to a theme. Give me a starting point and I can grow from there.

This rejection-themed challenge I’ve given myself exists because I know I like a framework. It’s something creators with ADHD often find helpful. It’s a way to push past the freeze. A starter pistol for our creativity. Plus I get a subscription with my entry, so that also helps with the project. I’ll be able to read a few issues. See what the current editors dig.

This likely wont be the first submission in The Rejection Project, because the contest doesn’t happen until April. I know it will happen, though, because I’ve already paid my entry fee. If I don’t pay it now, I’ll forget. Pre-planning is not my strong suit. It’s not even a whole suit. It’s just the cummerbund. A weak cummerbund.

So there you have it! Update #1 in The Rejection Project. Let me know if you dig contests, if you eschew them, if they inspire you, if they frustrate you. How do you find inspiration to write?

See you in the rejection pile!
H. E.

Dear Danny Tanner

In memory of the ersatz father figure I visited on Friday nights, here's my most rejected poem. Enjoy.

Dear Danny Tanner,

I know that this is sad
but will you be my dad?

I could be so bright and keen
almost like a normal teen
hang with bleach and Mr. Clean

I could press your fancy shirts
learn how starch and cling-spray works
label all my linen drawers
help you with your Sunday chores
live with you on
all
four
floors

I could help you
(oh so gently)
leave the closet
I’m intently
leaning closer for a word
that says you’ve heard my prayer
I promise I’ll be there

Forever
(just like Jesse said)
you’ll make me jam on whole wheat bread
we’ll read The Body Politic
and buy me binders and lipstick
I’ll help you choose your hottest pic
and write your dating ad

yeah

I know that this is sad
but will you be my dad?

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Group Homes, Death, Myths, Madness, and Rediscovering Reading

Welp, it’s been a while since I updated my website. I’ve been busy surviving a whole, actual, ongoing pandemic. It’s a thing. You can probably relate. Since my last update, lots of works that were in the pipeline have come out, so with only…

this much…

further ado…

here they are!

Apparition Lit, the funky independent, speculative lit mag that published my flash piece Seeking Same a few years back, shared my new essay about rediscovering reading after being diagnosed with Covid. Called When We Lost Touch, it’s—at heart—a love letter to the literary community and anyone who is creating art in this impossible time.

Stone of Madness Press picked up my stream of consciousness poem, Familiar, that tries to explain/invite people in to a moment of cPTSD-related panic.

Anti-Heroin Chic shared my group home story-verse about the moment I realized the grass on the other side can be a pretty, green lie. You can read Untended here.

Like everything helmed by Chris Talbot-Heindl, All My Relations is a gorgeous, honest collection that spends time in the concepts of death and loss without losing sight of how delicate and necessary mourning can be. My piece, Death Is a Way to Come Home: Rituals for the Estranged, is a creative non-fiction essay that visits the ways I’ve learned to mourn my estranged family members.

Finally, the minison zine’s mythology themed 12th issue includes three of my pieces: heroes villains, my creation myth, and ra was the sun god. Each poems is made up entirely of lines that are also anagrams of the title. I like to give myself a challenge.

That’s all for now! Hopefully I can find the spoons to get back to writing and submitting soon.

Centring our creative community

This week, I’m giving a boost to a new anthology called It Gets Even Better: Stories of Queer Possibility. I backed their Kickstarter, so my copy just arrived in the mail! It’s full of speculative lit featuring all kinds of Queer stories. It takes Queer-friendly space literally and I love it. You can buy it as an eBook, paperback, or audio book here.

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The Labels on Shampoo

My first published shape poem, The Labels on Shampoo, is in Ang(st)’s 4th issue, which can be read here. Ang(st) is a feminist zine with a focus on the body. The other works in this issue cover so many moods and styles. There’s likely something in there for every experience of hair. I’ve found some brilliant new writers to follow in this issue.

Funny side story: when I wrote this poem, I went to my local drugstore to take pictures of all the words used to sell shampoo (which, lets be honest, is just wet soap). I took so many photos, a guy at the store thought I was casing the joint. I had to explain that it was all for poetry. I’m not sure he bought it.

CENTRING OUR CREATIVE COMMUNITY

BTW, if you’re into zine culture, there’s some impressive work being done at the Wiggle Bird Mailing Club. There are a few different levels of support you can offer on their Patreon, but every level includes at least some of their bright, gloriously designed zines from trans and queer authors. If an ongoing monthly commitment isn’t feasible, you can also support them with one-off purchases at their Etsy shop.

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Paint

The Daily Drunk’s Bob Ross themed call resulted in this poem, Paint, about watching a man that was all edges soften just a bit when he created. One thing Bob Ross did, intentionally or not, was give men of an era that demanded a damaging masculinity permission to be gentle.

If you’d like to enjoy some Bob Ross yourself, his website is here and his youtube channel is here.