Friday, December 15, 2017

Yes, Virginia



Each Christmas I like to revisit the following essay from the The Sun. My grandmother read it to me many years ago. I've always remembered it. If you don't already know this piece, I hope you'll enjoy it. I also hope you'll have a Merry Christmas or whatever you're celebrating this year. And I hope you'll have a wonderful New Year. Thank you for being a Blogalicious reader.

Eight-year-old Virginia O'Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor of New York's The Sun, and the quick response was printed as an unsigned editorial on September 21, 1897. The work of veteran newsman Francis Pharcellus Church has since become history's most reprinted newspaper editorial, appearing in part or whole in dozens of languages in books, movies, and other editorials, and on posters and stamps.

Here's Virginia's letter:

"DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.

"Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.

"Papa says, 'If you see it in THE SUN it's so.'

"Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?

"VIRGINIA O'HANLON.
"115 WEST NINETY-FIFTH STREET."

Here's the reply:

VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except what they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.



Thursday, December 7, 2017

Pass the Donuts!

I'm happy to say that The Book of Donuts, the second anthology published by my press Terrapin Books, has been getting some really nice attention. Thanks to Jason Lee Brown and Shanie Latham for being such great editors and for doing some fine pr for the book. Please allow me to brag a bit.

First. in November we had a really nice review by Gale Walden in Smile Politely, an online newspaper. Walden said of the collection:
Some of the poems see the donut as an antagonist, a foil against thin bodies, healthy lifestyles, and then there is the poem "Rationalization" by Betsey Cullen, who finds a way around that kind of castigation: “Loosen up/ Krispy Kreme rhymes / with dream. Go ahead. Wallow / in a carrot-cake donut, call it a vegetable.”

A second review appeared in Midwest Quarterly Review, this one by Matt Geiger who made this comment:
For all its Bismarks, gulgulas and bombolones, the collection is far more human than pastry. The poems are really about family, international terrorism, anguish, love, and an array of other topics. The book is brimming with memories of mothers and grandmothers, glistening with perspiration as they tend crackling pots of oil. It's full of those who lose the ones they love and turn to trans fats for temporary but palpable comfort.

Jama sets a lovely table
The book also had a beautiful feature at Alphabet Soup, a food blog hosted by Jama Rattigan. The feature includes contributor Martha Silano's wonderful poem "What can I say that hasn’t been said." When you visit the feature, bring a bib with you as Jama includes some wonderful photos.

Another terrific feature appeared in Nicole  Gulotta's food blog, Eat This Poem. Nicole is also the author of a wonderful and unique cookbook, also titled Eat This Poem. The cookbook includes poems about food and recipes. This feature includes the poem "5 World Trade Center," by James Penha, and a commentary about the poem. Of this poem, Gulotta asks:
How many donuts have we eaten in our lifetime already? I've certainly had my share, and now I may never eat another without remembering these words or the image of dusty confections, trays of them, never delivered, utterly symbolic of the lives of men and women who perished, lives never fully lived.
The poem is followed by a recipe for Apple Cider Donuts.
Nicole models the book

Then we just had a poem featured by Verse Daily. They chose Nicky Beer's wonderful "Most Bizarre Beauty Queens of the 1950’s" as the feature for December 6.

If all this talk about donuts has stimulated your appetite for more and if you're looking for a good gift idea, here's one from editor Shanie Latham:
GIFT BAG IDEA: The Book of Donuts, a pound of fancy coffee, and a coffee mug featuring a snarky epigram (or a sweet one—if you're into that sort of thing).

Of course, we're into that sort of thing!

Friday, October 27, 2017

The Book of Donuts: Our Launch Reading


On Sunday, October 15, a group of poets gathered at the West Caldwell Public Library in NJ to celebrate the publication of The Book of Donuts, an anthology published by my press, Terrapin Books. Given that the poets in the book come from places far and wide (e.g., California, Wisconsin, Texas, Indonesia), I was delighted that eight poets were able to participate in the reading. Brent Pallas came from NYC, Anne Sandor from NY State, Marjorie Maddox from PA, and Anne Harding Woodworth came all the way from Washington, DC.

Each poet read their own poem, plus another by a poet not present. We sold a nice bunch of books and enjoyed a book signing. We also had a reception with donuts and tea. The donuts were generously donated by Glaze, a new donut shop in town. They make donuts fresh each day and seem to have an endless variety. They were delicious! We ate an impressive number.

Thanks to Glaze Donuts!


Jane Ebihara


Marjorie Maddox


 Charlotte Mandel


 Anne Sandor

Carole Stone


Eileen Van Hook


Anne Harding Woodworth


Book Table


 Our bountiful table

This was a lovely reading, festive and full of wonderful poems and good spirit. The Book of Donuts, edited by Jason Lee Brown and Shanie Latham, is available at Amazon or in the Terrapin Bookstore.

 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Poetry Festival in Celebration of the Dodge Poetry Festival


I am thrilled to be participating in this poetry festival on Saturday, October 21. Organized by the fabulous poet and human being BJ Ward, the event includes 13 NJ poets, all of whom have read at past Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festivals. The purpose of the event is to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Dodge Festival. I'll be participating in a panel discussion on "Favorite Memories of the Dodge Poetry Festival" and two Sampler readings. For the first Sampler each of the poets will read 2-3 favorite poems of their own. For the second Sampler, each poet will read one poem by another poet featured at a past festival.

It should be a fabulous day—and all the more so if you're there too!



Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Invitation to a Poetry Reading



 
BOOK LAUNCH

Please join us for the launch reading of The Book of Donuts,
an anthology of 54 poems by 51 poets,
published by Terrapin Books

Sunday, October 15
West Caldwell Public Library 
30 Clinton Rd.
West Caldwell, NJ
973-226-5441

1:00 - 3:00 PM
Books available for sale and signing

Reception follows the reading
All are invited to stay and join the poets for conversation and Donuts!

Donuts provided by Glaze Donuts

Poets Include:
Eileen Van Hook
Charlotte Mandel
Anne Harding Woodworth
Carole Stone
Marjorie Maddox
Jane Ebihara
Brent Pallas
Anne Sandor





Thursday, September 28, 2017

Second Anniversary of Terrapin Books

October marks the second anniversary of Terrapin Books. It was just two years ago that I began the journey towards becoming a small press publisher of poetry books. In spite of my initial trepidations, I must say that it’s all gone quite smoothly. I love this new work. it keeps me out of trouble and gives me the joy of putting more poetry books into the world. Among the greatest pleasures is giving a poet a book.

There have been challenges, among them and top of the list was learning how to format a book. I really had no idea how to do that when I decided to do open a press, but I asked the right people the right questions and received the right answers. I then sat in front of my computer until I figured it out. Now I can do all kinds of fancy stuff like adjust margins, place page numbers at bottom right and left (instead of center), and design a cover. One step at a time and a belief that I could do it with patience and persistence—that’s what worked for me.

I could not be more proud of the books that Terrapin has thus far published. Terrapin now has 9 single author poetry books, two craft books, and two anthologies. Four additional titles have just been accepted for publication. I’ve held 5 open reading periods and have accepted 2-4 books each time. I am committed to taking only a limited number of manuscripts so that I can get the books out in good time and give each book the attention it deserves. There will be no cranking out one book after another.

I’m also proud to say that I’ve run no contests and don’t plan to run any. All of my authors are winners.

I’m proud, too, of the attention that the poetry world has been paying to Terrapin Books. We’ve had multiple features in Verse Daily, two in Poetry Daily, one forthcoming in Ted Kooser’s American Life in Poetry, and one in The Missouri Review. We’ve been getting some lovely reviews in such places as the Washington Independent Review of Books, Broadkill Review, and Rain Taxi Review of Books. More on the way.

Terrapin now has its very own online bookstore. Check it out. We pay shipping and handling. Our books are also available at Amazon, B&N, and lots of other online sites.

Look for our next open reading period January/February 2018.


Saturday, July 15, 2017

Terrapin Books: Upcoming Reading Period



Terrapin Books will re-open for submissions of full-length poetry manuscripts on July 25 and will remain open thru August 31. Now is the time to get your manuscript ready. Be sure to read our Guidelines and our FAQs. Also, please be sure to follow the Guidelines! We ask for a bio, so you really should send one. We ask for a 4-6 sentence description of your manuscript, so you really should send one; in fact, we take it as a sign of laziness if you don't or, worse, we begin to suspect that you don't know what your manuscript is about. We know that request is a difficult one, but we hope it will help you to organize and focus your manuscript.

The Guidelines ask for:
"A manuscript of approximately 40-55 poems for a book of approximately 90-110 pages (page count includes poems, front and back matter, and section dividers)"

This is the one item that brings the most questions. We've rewritten it in an attempt to clarify, but still get a number of concerned questions about it. Please remember that "poems" and "pages" are not the same thing. There will be pages in your book that don't have poems on them. Let's say that you have 45 poems divided into 5 sections. If each poem is just one page, you still will have at least 10 additional pages for the section dividers (both sides count). You will also have approximately 12 pages of front matter (e.g., copyright page, title pages, table of contents, dedication page, epigraph page). Then there will also be back matter (Acknowledgments page or pages, bio). Keep in mind that each blank page counts in the page count. Of course, if some of your poems are more than one page, that increases the total page count. Now if this explanation has merely confused you further, just keep in mind that if you have 40-55 poems, you're probably fine. Let us worry about the page count.

Terrapin Books has so far published 8 poetry collections by fabulous poets—and one more is moving towards publication. We have also published two craft books and one poetry anthology with another soon to appear. But our primary focus is on full-length poetry books. We select carefully, taking only a limited number of manuscripts during each reading period (4 during the first one, 2 during the second, and 3 during the last one). We carefully edit each manuscript and work closely with each poet to put out a wonderful book. Because we are selective and don't have a big backlog, we move along quite quickly. You won't have to wait around for 2-3 years for your book to see the light of day. We pledge to get our books out within a year of acceptance, but in actual practice, we've been getting them out within 6 months.

We pride ourselves on the quality of the poetry and the beauty of the books. Poets are invited to offer input on their covers and book design, though the final say belongs to the publisher. One poet's cover art was done by his wife. One cover is a painting done by the poet's husband. Another cover is a painting done by the poet. One is a photo taken by a friend of the poet. The most recent cover is a photo of the poet's coat with its pockets stuffed with greenery from the poet's yard.

We are thrilled that Terrapin Books, not even two years old yet, has received positive attention from such places as Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, The Missouri Review, and the Washington Independent Review of Books. And we congratulate Lynne Knight whose book, The Persistence of Longing, was a finalist for the Northern California Book Award in Poetry as one of the best works by a northern California poet published in 2016.

Terrapin looks forward to reading your manuscript.



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