Thursday, October 30, 2014

Some Notes on Remix Poetry

I’m fairly new to remix. So far, I’ve only used it in conjunction with three projects initiated by The Found Poetry Review. However, a number of people have asked what process I use for remix, so I thought I would provide an overview of it.

Generally, I take an arbitrary selection of a source text (or am assigned an selection), for example the first paragraph of every page of a text or a specific chapter from a book, and then use the words in that selection as the general vocabulary or lexicon for the poem that’s to be drafted.

I mix and rearranged individual words chosen out that selection of text. On occasion, I might remix using a phrase. But for the most part I use individual words: I separate all of the words out of text so that they are not in context, because I don’t want to simply regurgitate the text in condensed form—I want to transform it somehow. Therefore, for my personality, it’s best that I not see the text on the page.

Then, using computer programs like Adobe Acrobat Pro, Microsoft Word, and/or Microsoft Excel, I create two list of words, one alphabetize and another randomized, usually spanning a whole sheet or more of paper, lists of words out of which I can use to make a poem. It's something akin that prompt in which someone says “use these five words to make a poem” and then gives you an arbitrary set of words. Except in this case, all of the words need to be tied to the source text.

Separating out the words from their source context helps free me to use them in ways not tied to the source. For example, I feel more free to use words that can function as different parts of speech, such as bolt, which can function as a verb, adverb, or noun, as it fits the poem, not necessarily how it was used in the source text. Of course, a good number of folks aren't influenced by the story or specific meaning of the words on the page and can use the words without having to separate them from their context. I, unfortunately, am not one of them and so I create lists of free-standing words.

In addition to the word lists, I allow myself to use words that are not in the selection, but that can be discovered by:

 concatenation, e.g. sun + light --> sunlight

 erasure within a word to form a new word, e.g. erasing “ling” from “sparkling” to form "spark", sparkling  --> spark

If I get stuck, I allow myself to return to the source text on the page in order to apply erasure across a phrase to form a new word. If I can’t find a word I want within one line or 80 characters of text, I move on to another word or idea. As an example of this technique, take the phrase “as the new moon with.” By erasing “a” + “ the new” + “n wi” , you get the word “smooth”: as the new moon with --> smooth

For each revision of a poem, I go back to the word lists and techniques for finding new words.  I keep detailed notes so that I can adequately cite the source text, which is important.

Different people do remix differently and the above process is nothing official—it's just one that works for me. (I’m not sure there is an official remix method.)

It’s been interesting to note some of the comments I've received regarding remix poems. Some folks who are not fond of found poetry don’t consider it “real” poetry because they don't think it's original—not enough of the mark of the maker. Some who are ardent fans of found poetry don’t consider remix (or at least my remix process) to be “real” found poetry because there is not enough foundness to it. There’s too much original language—too much the mark of the maker—because the poem contains language that is not found directly in the source text or language that is not found in the same order as in the source text.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Poetry Manuscripts: Resources for Manuscript Consultation/Coaching

This is the second post of two concerning resources related to putting together a poetry manuscript.

Last week, I posted a partial list of online articles that discussed ways to organize a poetry manuscript. Today's post is a partial list of individuals and organizations that offer some sort of manuscript consultation or mentoring.

Please note: I have not used any resource below except for the one mentioned (the post-graduate semester). All of the other resources listed here came to my attention because I received an email about it or I heard about it at a conference or someone sent me a link to it. Other than what scant information is provided below, I know little about these services. So, as with any service on which you spend your hard-earned pennies, caveat emptor.

And if you're ready to send out your first poetry manuscript and are looking to send them to contests, check out this list of 1st-book contests.


Colrain Manuscript Conference, fee is approximately $1,400 and includes lodging and some food

• The Vermont College of Fine Arts Postgraduate Writers' Conference  has a workshop for full manuscripts for those who have an MFA (“members of the Poetry Manuscript workshops submit drafts of book-length collections.”) Poetry Manuscript tuition is a little over $1,000, room and board not included.


One-on-one services are divided below into two groups: those offered by a journal, press, or other organization and those offered by an individual.

Services offered by journals, presses, and other organizations

• Cutthroat Journal Mentorship and Manuscript Evaluations, fee for Poetry manuscript is approximately $2,000

• GrubStreet Manuscript Consultation, hourly rate, $75 per hour

• The Loft Manuscript Critique and Coaching, cost varies according to the mentor/editor you select

• The University of Chicago Graham School—Writer’s Studio Program Manuscript Consultation,  fee varies by number of pages, minimum $525

• The Attic Institute offers Individual Consultations, including “Putting Together Your Full-Length Poetry Manuscript”, fee varies depending on requested consultation

• UCLA Extention Writers’ Program One-on-One Consultation, fee varies by number of pages, $500 minimum

• Manuscript Reading Services offered by members of the League of Canadian Poets, fees vary according to mentor/editor you select

• Manuscript editing and mentoring by one of the editors of Two Sylvia Press, sliding-scale fee from $450 to $1350

• Manuscript editing and mentoring by one of the editors of Blue Lyra Review, fee varies per number of pages, approximately $25 per 20 pages

• Post-graduate semester: If you have an MFA or other degree, there's the option of checking with the school where you graduate (or another school) to see if you could take a post-graduate semester to work with a mentor to finalize your manuscript. The cost is likely to be one semester's tuition.

Services offered by individuals

• April Ossmann, Manuscript consultation, hourly rate $85, final fee varies depending on the type of editing requested

• Holly Wren Spaulding, Services for Writers—Manuscript Critique, hourly rate $50

• Jeffrey Levine, Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of Tupelo Press, Mentoring Program for Poets, fee varies according to which plan you choose, from $1,200 on up.

• Katerina Stoykova-Klemer of Accents Publishing, Editing and feedback on book-length manuscripts, contact her for fee amounts

• Kelli Russell Agodon, Editorial Services, sliding-scale hourly rate $45 - $65

• Susan Kan, Perugia Press Editor, Personal Manuscript Reviews, contact her for fee amounts

[The links and the information shown above were current as of the date of this post.]

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Poetry Manuscripts: Resources for organizing a manuscript

There are lots of resources out there related to putting together a poetry manuscript, from articles on how to organize a manuscript, to classes and workshops that include manuscript review, to working one-on-one with a mentor. I thought it would be a good to idea to gather some of those resources together for those who are interested in such things. Below, you'll find a list of articles that discuss how to organize a poetry manuscript. Next week, I'll provide a list of resources related to manuscript consultations.

[If you're ready to send out your first poetry manuscript and are looking to send them to contests, check out my post that lists 1st-book contests.]

Jeffrey Levine of Tupelo Press has a series of articles on the subject of organizing a manuscript. Here are the links as of Oct. 18, 2014:

Turning a Manuscript into a First Book by Alberto RĂ­os

Thinking Like an Editor: How to Order Your Poetry Manuscript” by April Ossmanne at Poets and Writers

"Shaping a Collection of Poems" by Jamaal May at Poets and Writers

Putting Your Poetry in Order: The Mix-Tape Strategy” by Katrina Vandenberg at Poets and Writers

Some Notes on Building a Poetry Manuscript” Rebecca Dunham

How to Order the Poems in a Manuscript” by Leeanne Quinn

Assembling a Poetry Collection” from Gerald Huml’s blog Poetry and the Examined Life